Annual Retail Theft Survey

30th ANNUAL RETAIL THEFT SURVEY

Shoplifting Continues to Rise – 8 of the Past 10 Years!

Theft plagues retail industry, led by increases in shoplifting apprehensions and recovery dollars.  Highlights from this year’s survey include:

Click here to view a downloadable/printable PDF version of the survey, including some of our thoughts behind the numbers.

Wesley Chapel, FL – Over 432,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2017 by just 21 large retailers who recovered over $188 million from these thieves, according to the 30th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, the leading loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.

“Theft continues to plague the retail industry, with shoplifting leading the way!  In 2017, Shoplifting apprehensions increased 2.3%, with the dollars recovered from these shoplifters increasing almost 13%. This is the 8th rise in both shoplifter apprehensions and dollar recoveries in the past 10 years.  Recoveries from shoplifters where no apprehension was made increased for the 21st consecutive year, up an amazing 18% in 2017″, said Mark R. Doyle, President of Jack L. Hayes International. Mr. Doyle added, “While dishonest employee apprehensions and recovery dollars were down (almost 4% and 7% respectively), retail theft overall continues to be a serious problem for retailers negatively impacting their bottom-line, which results in higher prices to consumers.”

Highlights from this highly anticipated annual theft survey include:

  • Participants: 21 large retail companies with 16,409 stores and over $428 billion in retail sales (2017).
  • Apprehensions: 432,046 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2017, up 1.7% from 2016.
  • Recovery Dollars: Over $188 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2017, up 8.1% from 2016.
  • Shoplifter Apprehensions: 391,760 shoplifters were apprehended in 2017, up 2.3% from 2016.
  • Shoplifter Recovery Dollars: Over $149 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters in 2017, up 12.9% from 2016. An additional $185 million was recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made, up a significant 18.1% from 2016.
  • Employee Apprehensions: 40,286 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2017, down 4.0% from 2016.
  • Employee Recovery Dollars: Over $38 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2017, down 7.0% from 2016.
  • One in every 35 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2017. (Based on over 1.4 million employees.)
  • Shrink: 61.9% of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2017, with 28.6% reporting a decrease in shrink, and another 9.5% reported shrink stayed about the same.

Jack L. Hayes International, Inc. has been in the Loss Prevention/Shrinkage Control consulting business for over 40 years, and is recognized on an international level as the foremost loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm in the world.

SURVEY PARTICIPANTS

  • 21 Large Retail Companies
  • 16,409 Stores (representing an excellent cross-section of the United States)
  • $428,180,872,917 in Annual Retail Sales (2017)
TOTAL RETAIL THEFT APPREHENSIONS Difference
2016 2017 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 425,022 432,046 7,024  1.65%
Recoveries $174,150,449 $188,300,301 $14,149,852  8.13%
Avg. Case Value $409.74 $435.83 $26.09  6.37%
Retail Theft Apprehensions Breakdown
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2016 2017 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 383,081 391,760 8,679  2.27%
Recoveries $132,298,007 $149,359,289 $17,061,282 12.90%
Avg. Case Value $345.35 $381.25 $35.90 10.40%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*10 companies reporting)
29.72 26.51 -10.80%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$157,166,943 $185,566,529 $28,399,586 18.07%
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2016 2017 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 41,941 40,286 -1,655 -3.95%
Recoveries $41,852,442 $38,941,012 -$2,911,430 -6.96%
Avg. Case Value $997.89 $966.61 -$31.28 -3.13%

EMPLOYEE THEFT
Employee theft is perceived by many to be the most severe problem facing industry today! Many people often think of theft and abuse in companies as being isolated acts, which in themselves cost an organization little. Unfortunately, this is untrue! It is also not true that most employees are caught stealing inexpensive items such as ‘pens, pencils, and paper-clips’ from their employers. Over the years, Hayes International has witnessed a steady and significant rise in this serious problem. Each year thousands of employees are caught stealing from their employers and co-workers. Furthermore, our studies reflect that this group of thieves are being caught stealing far more than a few insignificant supplies. Below are a few highlights of our most recent survey:

Highlights From Jack L. Hayes International’s 30th Annual Retail Theft Survey

  • One out of every 35 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2017. (Based on comparison data of over 1.4 million employees.)
  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 40,286 dishonest employees in 2017, down 4.0% from 2016. Though not in 2017, employee theft apprehensions have increased in 8 of the past 10 years!
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $38 million in 2017, down 7.0% from 2016.
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2016 2017 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 41,941 40,286 -1,655 -3.95%
Recoveries $41,852,442 $38,941,012 -$2,911,430 -6.96%
Avg. Case Value $997.89 $966.61 -$31.28 -3.13%

JOB APPLICANT ADMISSIONS
To further evaluate the severity of employee theft, Hayes International analyzed over 19,000 randomly selected Applicant Review questionnaires (pre-employment ‘honesty tests’) given by CertiFinder to retail job applicants nationwide.

Of these 19,165 job applicants, 12,283 (64.1%) were rated as “low risk” and 3,700 (19.3%) were rated as “high risk”, due to their admissions of previous wrongdoings, and their attitudes regarding honest and dishonest behavior. (Note: The remaining 3,182 applicants (16.6%) were rated as “moderate risk”.) When comparing the admissions of “high risk” and “low risk” job applicants, it becomes most obvious why some applicants are considered a hiring risk and others are not. For example, listed below are various items on the Applicant Review questionnaire and the percent of high and low risk applicants admitting to each.


High Risk

Low Risk
→  I have frequently associated with fellow employees who admitted they were stealing merchandise from the company. 18.4% 5.4%
→  I am not an honest person and might steal or cheat. 9.3% 1.7%
→  I could be tempted to steal from my employer. 26.7% 7.8%
→  I might help friends steal from my company. 14.6% 1.3%
→  I have stolen money within the past 3 years. 17.5% 5.2%
→  I have stolen merchandise within the past 3 years. 15.9% 4.5%
→  I would possibly use marijuana/illegal drugs in the future. 23.1% 6.5%
→  I have previously sold marijuana or other illegal drugs. 4.3% 0.9%

Previous theft admissions for the group of 3,700 “high risk” job applicants totaled $256,050, or $69.20 per applicant, while the admissions for the group of 12,283 “low risk” job applicants totaled $71,930, or $5.86 per applicant. It is generally estimated the correct dollar amount for stolen money and merchandise is approximately 10 times the admitted amount. Therefore, based upon admissions made on The Applicant Review questionnaire, the average “high risk” job applicant was responsible for the theft of $692.03, compared to $58.56 for the average “low risk” job applicant.

SHOPLIFTING

  • Total retail losses are approximately $44.2 billion annually (based on University of Florida survey)
  • Shoplifting is conservatively estimated to account for 30% – 40% of total retail shrink/losses.  (Both University of Florida and Hayes International surveys)
  • Average shoplifting case for all types of retail is approximately $50.00  (Based upon data taken from various surveys)

Therefore, Hayes International estimates the following number of theft incidents and dollars lost to shoplifters:

Time Frame Dollars Incidents
Annually $13 – $18 Billion
($13.26 – $17.68 Billion)
260 – 350 Million
(265 – 353 million)
Daily (365 days) $36 – $48 Million
($36,328,000 – $48,438,000)
700,000 – 950,000
(726,575 – 968,767)
Per Hour (24) $1.5 – $2.0 Million
($1,513,698 – $2,018,264)
30,000 – 40,000
(30,274 – 40,365)
Per Minute (60) $25,000 – $33,000
($25,228 – $33,637)
500 – 650
(504 – 672)

SHOPLIFTING APPREHENSIONS SURVEY
Hayes International’s 30th Annual Retail Theft Survey reports on over 390,000 shoplifting apprehensions taking place in just 21 large retail companies representing 16,409 stores with combined 2017 annual sales in excess of $428 billion. Some shoplifter-related highlights from this survey are:

  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 391,760 shoplifters in 2017, an increase of 2.3% from the prior year.
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from shoplifting apprehensions totaled over $149 million in 2017, a substantial increase of 12.9% from 2016.
  • Dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made (over $185 million) increased an amazing 18.1% in 2017. This was the 21st consecutive year of increases.
  • Case Value: The average shoplifting case value in 2017 was $381.25, reflecting an increase of 10.4% from 2016 ($345.35).
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2016 2017 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 383,081 391,760 8,679   2.27%
Recoveries $132,298,007 $149,359,289 $17,061,282 12.90%
Avg. Case Value $345.35 $381.25 $35.90 10.40%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*10 companies reporting)
29.72 26.51 -10.80%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$157,166,943 $185,566,529 $28,399,586  18.07%

 

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