Study: Retail Theft Drops Nearly 7% in U.S.

THOROFARE, N.J. — Global retail theft totaled $107.3 billion between July 2009 and June 2010, representing a 5.6 percent decrease compared to the same period one year ago, according to a new report.

The fourth annual 2010 Global Retail Theft Barometer, sponsored by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, found that retail shrink decreased in all regions surveyed. Retailers in the United States registered the largest reductions in shrink at 6.8 percent.

Despite the improved data, the proportion of retailers that reported increased actual or attempted shoplifting was 31.1 percent globally, compared to 36.7 percent in the U.S. 

“Even with the shrink decrease, retail crime cost the average family in the 42 countries surveyed an extra $186 on their shopping bill,” says Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Center for Retail Research and author of the study. “In the U.S., that number was $422.68, a phenomenal figure.”

The study also found that retailers increased their spending on loss prevention and security. Global retailers spent $26.8 billion in 2010 on security measures, an increase of 9.7 percent. Similarly, U.S. retailers increased security spending by 12.5 percent.

“The correlation between increased security spending and a global 5.6 percent decrease in theft is very significant,” Bamfield says. “It highlights the importance of continued advancement and improvement of loss prevention programs, as reducing theft is key to the success and growth of retailers’ businesses.”

Additional study highlights included an increase in shrink among children’s wear, outerwear, shaving products, luxury cooked meats and infant formula. Customer theft (shoplifting and organized retail crime) caused the greatest shrink loss at 42.4 percent, followed by employee theft at 35.3 percent. India had the highest rate of shrink as a percentage of sales (2.72 percent of retail sales), while Taiwan had the lowest (0.87 percent of retail sales).

“Although retailers have made considerable progress in introducing new anti-shrink policies, more than 25 percent of the retail ‘top 50’ most-stolen product lines still have no specific protection,” says Rob van der Merwe, president and CEO, Checkpoint Systems. “So our industry needs to accelerate innovation to help better protect retailers and consumers.

“As we continue to slowly recover from the recession, it is perhaps the right time to begin looking to the merging technologies that will carry retailers through to the future,” van der Merwe adds. “Examples include the newest generation of EAS and also RFID technology to additionally provide better tracking and visibility of inventory across the supply chain, leading to the elimination of out-of-stocks and increased sales.”

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