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Retail shrinkage costs UK stores almost 11 billion pounds annually

By Huw Hughes


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UK retailers are losing almost 11 billion pounds annually - the most of any country in Europe - due to 1,000-plus daily incidents of shoplifting, food waste and soaring internal theft, a new report reveals.

According to the ‘Retail Security in Europe. Going beyond Shrinkage’ report conducted by Crime&tech with the support of Checkpoint Systems, shrinkage - which is when a retailer loses inventory either by accident or deliberately - cost retailers 10.96 billion pounds in 2017. The value includes external and internal theft, administrative errors, non-compliant use, waste, expired goods and damaged cold items and goods. The report also found that stores were spending a total of 3.09 billion pounds on loss-prevention measures.

The UK apparel industry loses 783 million pounds per year through shrinkage, with accessories, knitwear, trousers and blouses the most at-risk products favoured by shoplifters in Europe.

“Shrinkage in the UK is the highest of any country in Europe and retailers need to take urgent action to reduce this if they are to remain competitive and profitable,” Mike French, business unit director of Checkpoint Systems UK, said in a statement. “The fact that shrinkage, if converted to turnover, would represent the fourth largest retailer in Europe should not be taken lightly.

“In light of today’s tough retail climate, it’s more important than ever for retailers to take note of the findings and take the necessary actions to reduce their losses.”

Prof. Ernesto Savona, director of Crime&tech, added: “The research reveals that retailers across Europe are using a mixture of techniques to measure shrinkage, which include a variety of both crime and non-criminal losses. All these different approaches shall be kept in mind when interpreting the results presented.

“For this reason, the study goes beyond shrinkage, and it analyses retailers’ inventory policies and technologies, the contextual factors that have an impact on retail losses, the modus operandi of shoplifters, and how countermeasures and security solutions are adopted and combined together.”

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Checkpoint Systems