Despite all the closed-circuit television cameras, electronic article surveillance (EAS) and security personnel, retailers continue to wage a losing battle against shoplifters, says Jack L. Hayes International Inc., a leading loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.
Among 24 major retailers surveyed by the firm, which represented 13,313 stores nationwide (U.S.) with combined 2005 annual sales of more than $519 billion, a staggering $5.8 billion (or 1.6%) was lost to shoplifters and employee theft.
But according to the survey, an even more worrisome concern to retailers is the growing threat posed by dishonest employees. In fact, the survey shows that for every 26 employees, one was caught with a hand in the cookie jar in 2005.
The survey also found that the number of employees caught stealing in 2005 rose to 68,994, an increase of 11.4 percent over the previous year. By the same token, $49.9 million was recovered as a result of those apprehensions, an increase of 17.8 percent over 2004.Mark Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International, says the $5.8 billion figure was derived by multiplying total sales by 1.6 percent, which is the average shrinkage according to the 2005 National Retail Security Survey conducted by the University of Florida.
Doyle says the total theft loss amount may be even higher. “We took 30 % (against usual 20%) for paperwork and systems errors. If anything, we were more conservative.”
“The dollar losses are staggering,” says Doyle, adding that in the end everybody gets hurt because retail theft “drives consumer prices higher.”
Look for the cat-and-mouse posturing between retail surveillance and shoplifters to get even dicier as the holiday season approaches. “Without looking at hard data, retail thefts tend to increase during all busy shopping seasons,” said an expert.