Annual Retail Theft Survey

32nd ANNUAL RETAIL THEFT SURVEY

Apprehensions & Recovery Dollars Increased in 2019!

More losses as Shoplifters and Dishonest Employees continue to steal profits from 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 348,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2019 by just 21 large retailers who recovered over $136 million from these thieves, according to the 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, the leading loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.

“Two-thirds of retailers participating in this survey reported an increase in shrink in 2019, which is reflected in their reported apprehensions and recovery dollars. Overall apprehensions increased 2.44% and recovery dollars from those apprehensions were up 4.88%. Shoplifting apprehensions and recover dollars increased 3.04% and 3.50% respectively, with recovery dollars from shoplifting incidents without an apprehension increasing by 11% (to $176 million) over the prior year,” said Mark R. Doyle, President of Jack L. Hayes International, Inc. Mr. Doyle added, “While employee theft apprehensions were down 2.93%, the recovery dollars from those apprehensions increased 7.75%. Overall, retail theft continues to be a serious problem for retailers negatively impacting their bottom-line, and creating more out-of-stocks and higher prices to the consumer.”

Highlights from this highly anticipated annual theft survey include:

  • Participants: 21 large retail companies with 18,994 stores and over $510 billion in retail sales (2019).
  • Shrink: 66.7% of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2019, with 23.8% reporting a decrease in shrink, and another 9.5% reported shrink stayed about the same.
  • Apprehensions: 348,036 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2019, up 2.4% from 2018.
  • Recovery Dollars: Over $136 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2019, up 4.9% from 2018.
  • Shoplifter Apprehensions: 315,095 shoplifters were apprehended in 2019, up 3.0% from 2018.
  • Shoplifter Recovery Dollars: Over $90 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters in 2019, an increase of 3.5% from 2018. An additional $176 million was recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made, up 11.0% from 2018. Dollar recoveries have increased in 21 of the past 22 years!
  • Employee Apprehensions: 32,941 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2019, down 2.9% from 2018.
  • Employee Recovery Dollars: Over $45 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2019, up 7.8% from 2018.
  • Employee Case Value: The average Dishonest Employee case value in 2019 was $1,380.62, a substantial increase of 11.0% from 2018.

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 (Dept., MM/Big Box, Specialty Apparel, Supermarkets)
  • 18,944 Stores (representing an excellent cross-section of the United States)
  • $510,353,861,980 in Annual Retail Sales (2019)
TOTAL RETAIL THEFT APPREHENSIONS Difference
2018 2019 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 339,749 348,036 8,287 2.44%
Recoveries $130,103,758 $136,450,112 $6,346,354 4.88%
Avg. Case Value $382.94 $392.06 $9.12 2.38%
Retail Theft Apprehensions Breakdown
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2018 2019 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 305,813 315,095 9,282 3.04%
Recoveries $87,896,534 $90,971,116 $3,074,582 3.50%
Avg. Case Value $287.42 $288.71 $1.29 0.45%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*9 companies reporting)
38.72 33.44 -13.64%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$159,015,646 $176,505,815 $17,490,169 11.00%
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2018 2019 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 33,936 32,941 – 995 -2.93%
Recoveries $42,207,224 $45,478,996 $3,271,772   7.75%
Avg. Case Value $1,243.73 $1,380.62 $136.89  11.01%

EMPLOYEE THEFT
Employee theft is perceived by some 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 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey

  • One out of every 50 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2019. (Based on comparison data of over 1.6 million employees.)
  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 32,941 dishonest employees in 2019, down 2.9% from 2018. Though not in 2019, employee theft apprehensions have increased in 8 of the past 12 years!
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $45 million in 2019, up 7.8% from 2018.
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2018 2019 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 33,936 32,941 – 995 -2.93%
Recoveries $42,207,224 $45,478,996 $3,271,772    7.75%
Avg. Case Value $1,243.73 $1,380.62 $136.89 11.01%

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
For the past several years Loss Prevention professionals have rated shoplifting as their #1 shrink issue. Reasons cited for the increase in shoplifting include: Increased Organized Retail Crime (ORC) activity; Legislation raising Felony Threshold Levels; More “hit n run”/fleeing shoplifters; Less staff on salesfloor creating more opportunities for shoplifters; and Thieves view shoplifting as a high reward, low-risk endeavor. Over the years, Hayes International has witnessed a steady and significant rise in shoplifting. Billions of dollars are stolen every year by shoplifters, negatively impacting retailers’ bottom-line profits, which results in higher prices to the consumer.

 

  • Total retail losses are approximately $50.6 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 $15 – $20 Billion
($15.18 – $20.24 Billion)
300 – 400 Million
(300 – 400 million)
Daily (365 days) $41 – $55 Million
($41,589,000 – $55,452,000)
800,000 – 1,000,000
(821,918 – 1,095,890)
Per Hour (24) $1.7 – $2.3 Million
($1,732,875 – $2,310,500)
34,000 – 45,000
(34,247 – 45,662)
Per Minute (60) $28,000 – $38,000
($28,881 – $38,508)
550 – 750
(570 – 761)

SHOPLIFTING APPREHENSIONS SURVEY
Hayes International’s 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey reports on over 315,000 shoplifting apprehensions taking place in just 21 large retail companies representing 18,994 stores with combined 2019 annual sales in excess of $510 billion. Some shoplifter-related highlights from this survey are:

  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 315,095 shoplifters in 2019, an increase of 3.0% from the prior year.
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from shoplifting apprehensions totaled over $90 million in 2019, an increase of 3.5% from 2018.
  • Recoveries (no apprehension): Dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made (over $176 million) increased 11.0% in 2019. Recovery dollars have increased in 21 of the past 22 years!
  • Case Value: The average shoplifting case value in 2019 was $288.71, reflecting an increase of 0.5% from 2018.
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2018 2019 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 305,813 315,095 9,282 3.04%
Recoveries $87,896,534 $90,971,116 $3,074,582 3.50%
Avg. Case Value $287.42 $288.71 $1.29 0.45%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*90 companies reporting)
38.72 33.44 -13.64%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$159,015,646 $176,505,815 $17,490,169 11.00%

 

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