BUSINESSES and police agree that good customer service is key to preventing shoplifting, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas.
Launceston Senior Constable Annabel Shegog said light-fingered gift-givers were a significant problem for retailers, particularly in December.
She said hot items included alcohol, meat, seafood, beauty products and small electronic devices.
``It is widely agreed that the best defence against shoplifting is exceptional customer service,'' Senior Constable Shegog said.
``All employees should be alert, spend a minimal amount of time with their back to customers and maintain eye contact.''
Red Herring Surf Launceston store manager Hayley Vandentol said extra staff worked during busy periods and aimed to approach all customers.
She said the store also used security tags on goods.
Ms Vandentol said shoplifters were often female.
``People come in for a reason and by going over to them it prevents theft in itself, rather than if they are left on their own.''
Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Cahoon advised retailers to have friendly, approachable staff, and an open store layout with no hidden areas.
More information about shoplifting prevention is available at www.police.tas.gov.au/services-online/pamphlets-publications.