Responding both to recent attacks in malls and to consumers’ wariness of encountering airport-style security when they go shopping, trade groups are helping their members get creative about improving security at malls and retail outlets.
The retail industry has an unusual problem: It wants to prevent outbreaks of violence at malls and shopping centers, but shoppers generally oppose the use in retail settings of security techniques typically found at airports.
That has trade groups in the shopping industry keeping an eye out for new strategies. In the wake of a shooting at a Macy’s store in Seattle and a stabbing incident at a mall in Minnesota, executives are considering measures that rely heavily on technology.
Among those, according to an Associated Press report, are text notifications sent to tenants of individual stores at malls in cases of emergency. But, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, the industry is also exploring the potential of higher-tech strategies, including face-scanning cameras that can monitor a property for criminals and “virtual walls” that can prevent unwanted drones from entering open spaces.
“As technology progresses, there has to be a counter-measure,” Malachy Kavanagh, vice president of communications for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), told the AP.
(Robots have also been tested at some malls, but results have been questionable.)
Some of the tactics being considered are more conventional, such as barricade-style posts called bollards and thoughtful approaches to mall design.
“While some security measures deployed at shopping centers, such as the use of bollards, uniformed patrols by law-enforcement officers, and surveillance camera systems will be evident to consumers, many more protective measures will not,” ICSC Senior Vice President of Communications Rae Logsdon told the Wall Street Journal.
Security has long been a focus of ICSC, which spent millions to create terrorism-training programs after the September 11 attacks and has worked closely with Homeland Security over the years.
But individual retailers are also getting involved. Many stores, including Macy’s, are implementing employee training exercises, with a goal of minimizing threats if they arise.
“They are committed to reassessing the situation and identifying ways in which they can mitigate risks,” said Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, in comments to the AP.