Shoplifting Statistics – A 5 Year History

The participants in our Annual Retail Theft Survey are all large retailers with AP/LP staffs dedicated to the prevention of theft (internal and external) – these are Department Stores, Mass Merchants and Big Box retailers. Most use EAS, CCTV, security packaging, lock-up devices / cases, EBR (exception based reporting) software, various pre-employment screening tools, have thorough AP/LP training and awareness programs, and have in-house store AP/LP staffs. They make apprehensions as a last resort. Yet, apprehensions continue to be on the rise every year.

I thought it would be interesting to look back at the last five years of statistics from our Annual Retail Theft Surveys and look for any shoplifting trends. I found the following:
(Note: Survey participants change slightly from year to year, so “% Change” is based on common participants for that year who also supplied statistics for the previous year.)

Shoplifting Apprehensions:
Year   # Apprehensions   % Change
2014      1,192,194            + 7.44%
2013      1,102,635            + 2.54%
2012      1,074,593            + 7.44%
2011      1,005,003            + 5.59%
2010         959,903            – 4.09%
(Shoplifting apprehensions have increased 8 of the past 10 years!)

Shoplifting Recovery Dollars:
Year    Recovery Dollars   % Change
2014     $159 million           +  7.45%
2013     $144 million           +  4.54%
2012     $138 million           +14.22%
2011     $113 million            +13.92%
2010     $104 million            – 4.74%
(Shoplifting recovery dollars have increased 9 of the past 10 years!)

Shoplifting Recovery Dollars w/o an Apprehension Made:
Year    Recovery Dollars    % Change
2014     $82 million            +15.22%
2013     $98 million            +22.22%
2012     $46 million            +25.20%
2011     $37 million            +13.52%
2010     $33 million            +16.38%
(The dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made – shoplifter was identified and ditched merchandise prior to leaving the store – have increased for 18 consecutive years!)

Shoplifting Average Case Value:
Year    Avg. Case Value   % Change
2014     $133.80              +   0.03%
2013     $130.89              +   1.95%
2012     $129.12              +14.22%
2011      $133.30              +   7.52%
2010     $108.46              –   0.69%
(Note: The average shoplifting case value has increased 23.36% over the past 5 years!)

So, what is fueling these numbers, and what can be done to reduce shoplifting?

Our survey participants contributed the following reasons for the increase in shoplifter apprehensions and recovery dollars:
. Increased focus and attention by the Asset Protection/LP team.
. Continued growth and complexity of Organized Retail Crime (ORC).
. Stagnant economy.
. Opening of new stores in more metro markets.
. Less sales associates on the selling floor to prevent thefts.

Shoplifting Prevention Tips

. Providing good customer service is still the best deterrent to shoplifting. Shoplifters want and need privacy; so take it away from them with good customer service. When they state they are “just looking”, have associates respond with something like “Ok, but I’ll keep my eye on you in case you need any assistance”. Honest customers are ok with this (you are there if needed), while it is the last thing a shoplifter wants to hear. Also, have associates constantly walking about the sales floor and following-up with customers.

. Ensure clear site lines on the sales floor to easily view customers moving about. Do not block the view of high value and highly popular items, and keep these items near employee work areas, and in clear view.

. Limit the number of items placed on the sales floor. For certain high value/highly pilferable items, just have a limited number of units on the sales floor. This will reduce your vulnerability to large losses of these items and make it easier to identify missing items.

. Invest in and use anti-shoplifting technology wisely. Anti-shoplifting technology such as EAS tags (electronic article surveillance), Ink/Fluid tags, CCTV cameras, merchandise alarms, product tie-downs, and bulky packaging can all be effective in reducing shoplifting when used effectively.

. Know your merchandise, and what’s popular with thieves. Know your highly popular items, high value items, what’s stolen most often, and what’s easily stolen. Study why items are taken, evaluate their locations and packaging – then make changes.

. Avoid clutter and shelves/racks overstocked with merchandise. Shoplifters like clutter, crowds, and messy displays. Keep merchandise organized, neat and well displayed in order to quickly identify missing product.

. Create good relationships with malls security officers and local police. Encourage them to walk by or inside store as a security presence.

. Prosecute shoplifters (when you have a prosecutable case). Shoplifters know which companies / stores prosecute and those that don’t. Interviews with shoplifters have indicated they prefer to steal from those companies/stores which do not prosecute, as indicated by one shoplifter who stated “if they don’t prosecute, it’s like giving us a license to steal”. $

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