Merchants have worst shrinkage in UK

Building materials stores including builders merchants and DIY stores have the highest levels of shrinkage across all retail sectors according to a new report.

Merchants have worst shrinkage in UK

The Global Retail Theft Barometer (GRTB), from Checkpoint Systems, found that UK retail crime cost a total of £3.9bn making the UK the worst in Europe, and third worst in the world. And building materials outlets and DIY stores were hit hardest with shrinkage of 1.7% of turnover.

Conducted by the Centre for Retail Research, the study across 32 countries worldwide found that in the UK retail theft is costing every household £150 per year as consumers end up absorbing this cost. This is compared with £194.01 in the USA, and an average of £115.18 (€168.51) in Europe,

Despite the fact that total cost of shrinkage in the UK only dropped 3.3% in the past year, spend on security declined drastically by 22% to £769 million.

And worryingly, it appears that retailers and merchants are not just at risk from the public. While customer theft accounts for the majority of shrinkage in all countries (except in the US where a massive 45.8% is caused by sticky-fingered staff), the amount of shrinkage caused by employee theft is on the rise. In the UK alone it accounted for 34% of all retail theft and cost businesses £1.3bn.

The GRTB identified heavily branded expensive consumer goods as most at risk because “they are desirable or can be sold on easily”. Despite this, the GRTB found that 38.5% of the most stolen items still remain unprotected.

“Retailers must take the financial implications of theft on their businesses and their customers more seriously,” said Checkpoint Systems Europe vice president Neil Matthews.

“Over the past year, the level of investment in security has dropped and this has resulted in a detrimental effect on the level of protection and, therefore, the profit margins for retailers. The importance of security is widely acknowledged but I am shocked that 38.5% of the most stolen items still remain unprotected. Retailers must put the investment where their mouth is as there is a clear link between spend on security and the amount of shrinkage experienced.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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