business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

As the nation still wrestles with the cultural and political implications and repercussions of the Orlando mass shooting, there was a Reuters story the other day that pointed to another potential result - the need for consumer-facing businesses, especially retailers, to invest in greater security measures, "such as metal detectors or extra guards."

Indeed, the story says, "This week, a large U.S. retailer contacted First Texas Products to launch a test of its hand-held security wands, which start at around $100 each, in 50 stores."

But that may be an outlier, because the story also notes that especially "smaller U.S. businesses remain reluctant to invest in more physical security measures." Attacks like the one in Orlando, Reuters writes, "often prompt a flurry of inquiries from potential customers to security companies. But the calls fail to translate into meaningful sales as owners tally the cost of the equipment and the extra personnel needed ... The trend stands in contrast to Europe, where companies say sales can spike after a major incident, such as the coordinated attacks on restaurants, a concert hall and soccer stadium in Paris in November that killed 130 people."

For example, "U.S. movie theaters have generally not installed metal detectors following the 2012 slaying of 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colorado." But more incidents - and growing consumer concerns - could "change that calculus."

While heightened security precautions at retail venues around the country would not say something positive about the direction the world is taking, it would, I think, say something important about the premium companies place on their customers' and employees' safety and well-being. While such efforts might raise a few eyebrows at first, the fact is that we're all used to higher levels of security in most public places. And in the end, the cost of such efforts and whatever perception issues they might create will pale when compared to the impact of an actual attack.

And there will be another actual attack. And another. And another.

Retailers have to face these new realities with their eyes open.
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