Retail crime falls – but at a cost

Retail crime fell last year – but only after retailers had spent significantly more on crime prevention.

Retail crime falls - but at a cost

The British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey 2010, published today, shows an 11% reduction in the overall number of offences over the previous year.

But, says the BRC, the drop has come at significant cost. In 2009/10, retailers were forced to spend over £210m protecting their staff, stock and premises – 10% more than in the previous year.

Shoplifting incidents were down 10.6% though there are still almost two thefts from shops per minute – and the total value of goods stolen by customers rose on the previous year to £137m. The average value of goods stolen in each incident was £70, up from £45 the previous year.

Respondents to the survey, who represent almost half of UK retail turnover, indicated only half of all customer thefts are detected.

Theft by employees was the only area to see a rise in incidents. It accounts for only 5% all retail crime by value, but 68% more incidents were recorded than in the previous year. The increase is partly explained by employers improving their methods of detection. Though there were more incidents, the total value of goods stolen by employees fell.

When combining shoplifting, staff theft and the amount retailers are spending on crime prevention with retail fraud and burglary, retailers are faced with a total retail crime bill of £1.1bn.

The BRC says the human cost of retail crime remains high too. Despite a reduction in offences, more than 18,000 staff reported suffering verbal or physical abuse.

The BRC is calling for retailers’ increased commitment to crime prevention to be matched by a similar level of commitment from law makers and enforcers.

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