Annual Retail Theft Survey

31st ANNUAL RETAIL THEFT SURVEY

Apprehensions Down, But Average Case Values Soar!

Shoplifters and Dishonest Employees continue stealing, negatively impacting profits of U.S. Retailers.  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 279,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2018 by just 20 large retailers who recovered over $114 million from these thieves, according to the 31st Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, the leading loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.

“Theft case values soared in 2018 with the average shoplifting case value ($301.97) increasing 11.8%; the average dishonest employee case value ($1,361.37) increasing an amazing 30.1%; and the total average theft case value ($408.77) up 17.0%! While the retailers participating in this survey did not apprehend as many thieves as they did the previous year, they were recovering more dollars from the thieves they did apprehend,” said Mark R. Doyle, President of Jack L. Hayes International, Inc.  Mr. Doyle added, “With the increase in dollar recoveries, 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: 20 large retail companies with 13,674 stores and over $330 billion in retail sales (2018).
  • Apprehensions: 279,196 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2018, down 11.8% from 2017.
  • Recovery Dollars: Over $114 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2018, up 3.2% from 2017.
  • Shoplifter Apprehensions: 251,051 shoplifters were apprehended in 2018, down 11.7% from 2017.
  • Shoplifter Recovery Dollars: Over $75 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters in 2018, a slight decrease of 1.4% from 2017. An additional $126 million was recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made, down 1.4% from 2017. This was the first decline in over 20 years!
  • Employee Apprehensions: 28,145 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2018, down 12.7% from 2017.
  • Employee Recovery Dollars: Over $38 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2018, up a substantial 13.5% from 2017.
  • Average Case Values: Total Theft: up 17%; Shoplifters: up 11.8%; Dishonest Employees: up 30.1%.
  • One in every 40 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2017. (Based on over 1.1 million employees.)
  • Shrink: 55.0% of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2018, with 35.0% reporting a decrease in shrink, and another 10.0% 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

  • 20 Large Retail Companies (Dept. Store, Mass Merchant, Big Box)
  • 13,674 Stores (representing an excellent cross-section of the United States)
  • $331,101,126,145 in Annual Retail Sales (2018)
TOTAL RETAIL THEFT APPREHENSIONS Difference
2017 2018 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 316,704 279,196 -37,508 -11.84%
Recoveries $110,620,301 $114,126,134 $3,505,833    3.17%
Avg. Case Value $349.29 $408.77 $59.48 17.03%
Retail Theft Apprehensions Breakdown
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2017 2018 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 284,450 251,051 -33,399 -11.74%
Recoveries $76,859,289 $75,810,324 -$1,048,965 -1.36%
Avg. Case Value $270.20 $301.97 $31.77 11.76%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*10 companies reporting)
26.51 26.51  0.00%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$128,666,529 $126,878,736 -$1,787,793 -1.39%
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2017 2018 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 32,254 28,145 -4,109 -12.74%
Recoveries $33,761,012 $38,315,810 $4,554,798  13.49%
Avg. Case Value $1,046.72 $1,361.37 $314.65  30.06%

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 31th Annual Retail Theft Survey

  • One out of every 40 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2018. (Based on comparison data of over 1.1 million employees.)
  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 28,145 dishonest employees in 2018, down 12.7% from 2017. Though not in 2018, employee theft apprehensions have increased in 8 of the past 11 years!
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $38 million in 2018, up 13.49% from 2017.
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2017 2018 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 32,254 28,145 -4,109 -12.74%
Recoveries $33,761,012 $38,315,810 $4,554,798 13.49%
Avg. Case Value $1,046.72 $1,361.37 $314.65 30.06%

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 31st Annual Retail Theft Survey reports on over 250,000 shoplifting apprehensions taking place in just 20 large retail companies representing 13,674 stores with combined 2018 annual sales in excess of $330 billion. Some shoplifter-related highlights from this survey are:

  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 251,051 shoplifters in 2018, a decrease of 11.7% from the prior year.
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from shoplifting apprehensions totaled over $75 million in 2018, a slight decrease of 1.4% from 2017.
  • Recoveries (no apprehension): Dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made (over $126 million) decreased 1.4% in 2018. This was the first decrease in over 20 years!
  • Case Value: The average shoplifting case value in 2018 was $301.97, reflecting an increase of 11.8% from 2017 ($270.20).
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2017 2018 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 284,450 251,051 -33,399 -11.74%
Recoveries $76,859,289 $75,810,324 -$1,048,965 -1.36%
Avg. Case Value $270.20 $301.97 $31.77 11.76%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*10 companies reporting)
26.51 26.51  0.00%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$128,666,529 $126,878,736 -$1,787,793 -1.39%

 

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