A new report into global Retail Crime has highlighted that six million shoplifters are apprehended annually but retailers must be aware that criminals’ behaviour is shifting.
The Changing Retail, Changing Loss Prevention publication by the Centre for Retail Research found that, in the ten years between 2001 and 2011, losses from retailers in the 43 countries surveyed amounted to $119 billion (£79 billion).
Premium products were most likely to be stolen but it showed there had been a marked increase in people stealing standard household items and food produce in recent years, with meat a high-theft category for supermarkets.
Joshua Bamfield, executive director at the Centre for Retail Research, told SecurityNewsDesk the recession has prompted an increase in the levels of shoplifting and retailers, along with the police, need to act if they wish to curb this growing trend.
“As a result of the recession there has been a big rise in shoplifting and this goes against a trend that lasted for about five years of regular declines in shoplifting,” he said.
“It is unlikely that retailers are going to be able to get rid of this quickly as once people have learnt to shoplift or gone back to shoplifting then they will continue. It needs a lot more work from retailers and use of the criminal justice system.”
The report shows investment in loss prevention plays a major role in reducing shrinkage and retailers need to invest in areas where they are likely to suffer the greatest cost from crime to ensure they are not seen as a “soft target”.
Employee training, hardware and software spending, hiring more employees and new CCTV surveillance were commonly implemented by loss prevention departments during the recession.
However, the financial climate means often loss prevention strategies need to produce better performances on smaller budgets.
Bamfield stated: “It’s got to be balanced; they’ve got to ‘be prepared’. You have to invest in areas where you are likely to have the greatest cost – one of which is cyber-crime at the moment.
“They have to keep on investing in loss prevention equipment and loss prevention people and doing more and more, but everybody in retail has to do more with less at the moment. They have to experiment with ideas that work.”
With a continued rise of online retailing and mobile shopping, Bamfield highlighted that as a key area for businesses to focus on preventative techniques as transactions are taking over from store-based retailing and can be seen as a “good opportunity” by criminals looking to exploit under-protected systems.
Per Levin, president, Shrink Management and Merchandise Visibility Solutions at Checkpoint Systems, said: “In this ever changing environment, we are pleased to support the global retail community with research that offers benchmarks and practical insights with the objective to help retailers improve their merchandise availability and grow sales profitably.”
The report, which is available as a free download, analysed the evolution of retail crime from the Global Retail Theft Barometer publications since 2001, of which every edition has been sponsored by Checkpoint Systems.