According to this year’s British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime survey, the impact of theft on UK retailers has reached its highest level in a decade.
The average value of each theft in-store increased by 36% to £241 per incident, helping to push the direct cost of retail crime up to £603m in 2013-14.
The majority of respondents also reported suffering increasing levels of fraud, most of which is now committed online and retailers warned that they expect fraud to pose the ‘single most significant threat to their business’ over the next two years. Fraud increased by 12% in 2013-14 and accounted for 37% of the total cost of retail crime.
These trends are thought to be, in part, a consequence of retailers being targeted by more organised, sophisticated criminals, with the BRC recommending that dedicated strategies to tackle business crime need to be developed by police around the country, in close partnership with businesses. A fundamental part of this approach is ensuring that data on business crime is properly collected and analysed by police, so that it can be used to inform operational activity.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson (pictured) said: “Criminal activity against UK retailers continues to have wide-ranging consequences for businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers. The average cost to retailers of theft has now reached £241 per incident, the highest in a decade. Fraud committed online also continues to rise.”
She continued: “It is clear that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal. Despite an average investment of £2m per business in crime and loss prevention, retailers need help and support to respond to the threat. Police and Crime Commissioners should follow the lead set by the Mayor of London and work with retailers to develop dedicated business crime strategies to help tackle this growing problem.”