While the news from the 2015 National Retail Security Survey wasn’t all great — with retailers having suffered losses in the previous year to the tune of $44 billion — there was, it turns out, a silver lining.
The overall shrink percentage reported — 1.38 percent — was actually the lowest in the 24-year history of the survey.
"I was surprised that [shrink] dropped as much it had, but it has been decreasing over the past few surveys,” Dr. Richard Hollinger, criminology professor at the University of Florida and lead author of the survey, told SecurityInfoWatch. “I think the lowest that it has gotten before this is 1.45 percent. If you look at 2012, I think the number was 1.47 percent, so it was clearly decreasing, and we didn’t see the really, really high numbers that we saw in the 1990s."
One possible factor, Hollinger offered to the outlet, that might have contributed to the drop in shrink rates is the simple fact that some retail outlets that were in the past prime targets for theft — such as record stores — no longer exist in significant numbers (and therefore do not participate in the survey). Regardless, Hollinger stated that he sees the results as generally positive, indicative of strides that the industry is making in improving its loss prevention techniques and technologies — such as video surveillance.
"Video analytics is one of those technologies that has really paid off and allowed them to do two things: One is reduce shrink but also not have to increase staff,” Hollinger told SecurityInfoWatch. “In many ways, what they’re trying to do is keep the staff that they have dedicated, particularly on the floor, as low as they possibly can because that is a fixed cost. It doesn’t matter how much you sell, having staff on the floor is a fixed expense and probably one of the larger expenses they have to pay for."