Shoplifting cost UK retailers £603m hitting decade-long high, says British Retail Consortium

Retail crime is on the up in the UK with the average value of each in-store theft increasing by as much as 36 per cent to £241 per incident, according to a report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The consortium found that an estimated three million theft incidents burned a £603m hole in the industry’s earnings in the 13/14 financial year. Despite the volume of shoplifting offences dropping by four per cent, the value of each incident spiked dramatically.

Online fraud also posed a threat to consumers, increasing by 12 per cent in 13/14, accounting for 37 per cent of all retail crime. The BRC issued a warning that online fraud will become even more common in the next two years.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “Criminal activity against UK retailers continues to have wide-ranging consequences for businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers. The average cost to retailers of theft has now reached £241 per incident, the highest in a decade. Fraud committed online also continues to rise.

“It is clear that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal. Despite an average investment of £2m per business in crime and loss prevention, retailers need help and support to respond to the threat. Police and Crime Commissioners should follow the lead set by the Mayor of London and work with retailers to develop dedicated business crime strategies to help tackle this growing problem.”

Mark Castle, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, added: "Crimes against retailers are not victimless. They can be extremely traumatic for employees, have a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods and they damage the economy.

“The amount of violent and abusive incidents reported in the retail sector is particularly shocking. Nobody should have to fear for their safety in the work-place."

Retailers also reported 58,014 incidents of violence and abuse.

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