How Much Will Theft Cost Retailers This Year?

Article by Martyn Jones | 11th February 2019

Theft is a growing concern shared across retailers in the UK. With one in five thefts now taking place in stores, retailers are reporting that challenging shop thieves is the biggest cause of aggressive and violent behaviour. Career criminals intentionally use violence and abuse when challenged over stealing, with common requirements such as age-checking and refusal sales also triggering violence and threats.

With shoplifting offences in England and Wales at an all-time high, retail managers are investing in counter-loss prevention measures such as hiring extra on-door personnel, installing CCTVs, and investing in more innovative technology solutions to guarantee greater employee safety and halt loss of revenue.

Retail theft statistics in the UK

In 2018, the ACS’ Crime Report’s key findings included:

  • Over 950,000 incidents of theft estimated over the last year, rising from 575,000 in the previous year
  • The total cost of crimes committed against the convenience sector over the last year was £193 million, which equates to a 7p ‘crime tax’ on every transaction in store
  • Narrowing down the figure showed the average convenience store loses £1,739 through shop theft
  • There were a reported 13,437 incidents of violence over the last year, with many more instances left unreported

Statistics from the Home Office also revealed that clothing and alcohol is the second most common item shoplifted in the retail sector at 15 percent, followed by cosmetics and electronic equipment at 12 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Looking after your team: the impacts of violence in retail

Notably the impacts of theft and violence extend beyond the financials to the health, wellbeing and morale of your team, with direct impacts on efficiency and productivity.

In 2018, the rate of incidents of violence with injury has doubled since the previous year to six per 1000 members of staff. In any act of violence or threat, employees are left fearing their own and other member’s wellbeing, contributing to reduced morale and leaving individuals and teams feeling vulnerable. This can affect staff employees’ willingness to help customers at front-facing value, as they’d feel uncomfortable in handling a similar situation if one were to arise, never mind effectively handling instances of theft on the shop floor.

In addition, tension can arise between management and staff when stricter rules are put in place to prevent theft, such as surveillance cameras or access restrictions. Employees enjoy the freedom to move around the workplace without feeling like they are being constantly monitored.

How much will theft cost you?

Theft and retail violence is always going to be a concern for any business of any size. Not only will it impact your revenue and inventory, but your team can also succumb to its negative impacts, which could lead to brand damage and greater staff turnover.

Significant investment in prevention of retail crime has improved some areas, such as fraud, where the cost to retailers has fallen by nearly £30 million from 2017 to 2018. Similarly investing in solutions to address store theft and retail violence provides your team with the confidence and peace of mind they need to go about their work productively and with efficiency, safe in the knowledge that they are working in a secure retail environment.

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