Shoplifting: Retail’s $45 Billion Problem

Retailers are struggling to keep tabs on shoplifters who are increasingly becoming their top source of loss averaging $377 per incidence, up $60 from the year before.

Retailers are struggling to keep tabs on shoplifters who are increasingly becoming their top source of loss, averaging $377 per incidence, up $60 from the year before.

At 39 percent, shoplifting was found to be the biggest contributor among factors that led to overall inventory shrinkage in 2015 causing a $45.2 billion loss across the United States, according to NRF’s 2016 National Retail Security survey. The new numbers reflect a $1.2 billion increase in losses from 2014.

The inventory shrink averaged 1.38 percent of retail sales and saw 47 percent of retailers reporting losses in 2015.

“With a constantly evolving retail landscape, loss prevention becomes more complex every day,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca. “LP professionals have been working diligently to find advancements in technology aimed at deterring crime in our industry, sometimes even before it happens – but as our techniques get more sophisticated, so too do the criminals.”

Another factor adding to inventory shrinkage was a rise in robberies that exclusively targeted jewelry stores. The average loss reported by robbed stores increased from $2,465 per incidence in 2014 to $8,180.17 last year.

“Loss prevention professionals continue to do an exceptional job at locating the issues and finding solutions to prevent additional loss in their retail stores,” said Dr. Richard Hollinger, University of Florida criminology professor and lead author of the NRSS. “It is important for retailers to continue building relationships with law enforcement and leverage new technologies that can further provide protection to their assets, customers and employees.”

On the bright side, retailers reported a decrease in loss incurred from dishonest employees. The average loss from such incidences dropped from $1,546.83 to $1,233.77. The drop reflects stricter measures by retailers as the number of employee apprehensions increased. However, prosecution and termination of such incidences dropped.