Retailers count soaring cost of theft and fraud

The cost of retail crime – taking in the value of goods stolen and the cost of retailers’ anti-crime measures – soared by 31% to £1.4bn last year as the sector was increasingly targeted by serious, organised criminals.

Retailers count soaring cost of theft and fraud

The British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey 2011, published today, shows fewer incidents for many types of crime. But each incident on average has been more costly and so total losses have increased sharply compared with the previous year.

The survey reveals that robberies increased by 20% and that the average cost per incident went up 17% to £989. Increases in the use of weapons and physical violence were also reported.

The number of burglaries was down 42% but the cost per incident shot up by 83%. The average value of goods taken in a burglary was more than £2,000.

Also down was the number of “customer” theft incidents, which fell by 19% over the previous year. Again, though, losses still rose as costs per incident went up 21% to £85.50. In total, customers stole around £147m-worth of goods – up £10m on the previous year. Customer theft accounted for nearly 60% of the cost of crime for the retailers in the survey, and there was more than one customer theft every minute.

Incidents of fraud increased significantly, with 78% of retailers noting a rise. It now accounts for more than 28% of retail crime by cost, second only to customer theft.

Expenditure on crime prevention by retailers taking part in the survey rose by 1.4% to £214m, an average spend of £700,000 per company.

The BRC also found that over 35,000 retail workers suffered from physical attacks, verbal abuse and anti-social behaviour during the course of the year, excluding staff affected by the August riots. There were 26 incidents per 1,000 employees last year, an increase of 83%.

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