Retail Theft Decreased in 2011

Shoplifting accounted for approximately 35.7% of total losses

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON -- Though retail theft rates in 2011 decreased, recent survey data finds retailers are still grappling with a multi-billion dollar problem. Preliminary results of the latest National Retail Security Survey show that retail shrinkage--a loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors or supplier fraud--decreased to 1.41% of retail sales in 2011 ($34.5 billion), down from 1.49% in 2010 ($37.1 billion).

The survey is a collaborative effort between NRF and the University of Florida. Dr. Richard Hollinger, professor of criminology at the University of Florida and the survey's author.

"Retail theft continues to plague the industry, with billions of dollars of merchandise walking out of the store every day without ever being paid for," said NRF vice president of loss prevention Rich Mellor. "Fighting these self-serving and unethical criminals has been a tedious battle, but we remain resolute in our efforts and our partnerships with law enforcement to combat this growing problem."

Although overall shrink rates have decreased, when it comes to organized crime, retailers are seeing a rise in activity. NRF's recently released Organized Retail Crime survey found that 96% of retailers have been a victim of organized retail crime over the last 12 months.

According to the preliminary survey findings, the majority of retail shrinkage last year was due to employee theft, accounting for 43.9% of total losses. Additionally, shoplifting accounted for approximately 35.7% of total losses, up from just over 32% last year. Other losses included administrative error (12.1% of shrinkage) and vendor fraud (5.0% of shrinkage). Retailers said that the cause of the remaining shrinkage was unknown.

The National Retail Security Survey is an annual survey of loss prevention executives that benchmarks retail shrinkage and operational information about how retailers are combating losses. The study, which surveyed 100 retailers in the first half of 2012 and uses data from 2011, is the result of a partnership between the University of Florida and the National Retail Federation.

As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs--42 million working Americans.