Shoplifting at Christmas poised to cost UK retailers £1bn, new study reveals

Retailers in the United Kingdom are expected to lose £1bn over Christmas, as a result of shoplifting, dishonest employees and vendor or distribution losses, according to a new study released today by the Centre for Retail Research.

The report, funded by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, suggests the losses incurred by the retail industry over this period could add an extra £38.09 to each UK family’s shopping bill.

The report found UK retailers could lose £522m through shoplifting, £431m through employee theft, and £47m through vendor and distribution losses. In total, the losses could represent a 3.4% increase over the same period last year, said researchers.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the report, said: “The Christmas season is an especially attractive time for criminals. Thieves take advantage of busy stores to steal high-value, high-demand goods. As a result, retailers face a big threat from professional and semi-professional thieves, many of whom steal goods with the intention of re-selling them. Organised retail crime is a major concern for retailers – especially since the average amount stolen per incident is much higher than normal thefts.”

The ‘Shoplifting for Christmas 2012’ report also revealed the product categories most likely to be stolen over the Christmas period, which included alcohol, women’s clothing and fashion accessories, toys, perfume and health and beauty gift packs, electronic devices such as smart phones and tablet computers, toiletries for men, DVD gift sets and game consoles, food and Christmas decorations, electrical goods including hardware/DIY, watches and jewellery, and chocolates and confectionery.

Per Levin, president and chief sales officer for shrink management & merchandise visibility solutions for Checkpoint Systems, said: “During Christmas, consumers spend 60% more than in other months, and retailers need to ensure the merchandise is available on the shelves for consumers to buy. We know from Professor Bamfield’s past studies there is a clear correlation between investments in preventive solutions and the rate of shoplifting. With the right solutions in store, it is possible to reduce the threat of further losses, increase merchandise availability and reap the maximum returns during holiday season.”

Overall, the study found the cost of shoplifting and fraud to retailers over the Christmas period would be €5.8bn in Europe, and $8.9bn in the USA.