Checkpoint Systems warns bag levy will result in more shopping basket theft

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Supermarkets are bracing themselves for a new issue this month, with leading supplier of merchandise availability solutions for the retail industry Checkpoint Systems warning of an increase in shopping basket theft, following the introduction of the new 5p plastic bag levy.

When the ‘bag tax’ was first introduced in Wales and Scotland there were reports of substantial increases in the number of baskets being pilfered. In preparation for today’s launch, one UK manufacturer received an order for more than 60,000 wire baskets from one of Britain’s largest grocery retailers.

Over the course of a year, one major store in Wales had almost 500 stolen when it began charging 5p for plastic bags – resulting in a four-figure loss from just one site. Although WRAP predicts it will cost shoppers just £6.50 a year, history shows that some shoppers will turn to theft to get around the new law.

Russell Holland, global accounts director at Checkpoint Systems, which provides security solutions to a number of the UK’s leading retailers, commented: “One major retailer recently told me that they had started making provisions for shopping basket theft months ago. While we agree that the bag levy is key to reducing waste, history tells us that, even though it’s only 5p per bag, it is proven to lead to an increase in basket disappearances.

“These assets are essential to stores, but are notoriously difficult to protect. They’re often by the entrances making them the prime target for opportunistic thieves. To help tackle the problem, baskets should be placed away from the doors with retro fit tags applied. These two steps should drastically cut down incidents of theft.”

Thieves are not a new enemy for the grocery supermarkets. 20 years ago they were forced to introduce security devices on trolleys, amid a rise in theft because of their scrap value. What’s more, every day they are targeted by opportunistic shoplifters who attempt to steal a variety of merchandise, such as luxury cheeses, wine, meats, and even baby formula.

Indeed, according to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, last year the entire retail industry suffered from £4.3bn worth of shrinkage – the difference between the revenue the business should have received, and the amount it actually received.

“Grocery stores are looking to reduce shrink in even these unconventional areas, but we absolutely don’t think baskets should be chained or locked up. Shoppers hate inconvenience and it’s proven to impact sales. Retailers do everything they can to improve satisfaction so we’re working with our grocery customers to provide a new solution that will protect their baskets, without hindering the shopper in any way,” said Holland.