For home improvement and garden centres, shoplifting was the main cause of shrinkage, with customers responsible for 70 per cent of their losses.
More than £800m was stolen from retailers in 2014, with official police data revealing that there were more than 329,000 incidents of shoplifting nationwide in the same year – a three per cent increase on 2013 levels and around 27,000 more than in 2012. Of the 44 forces analysed, just 14 recorded a decline in shoplifting last year.
Shoplifters and dishonest employees primarily targeted small and easy-to-conceal items, as well as high-value items with high resale value. When sorted by retail vertical, the most stolen items included fashion accessories, power tools, mobile device accessories, wine and spirits, and razor blades.
The UK performed better than most nations, ranking fifth best, behind only Norway, Switzerland, France and Poland. However, value-wise, due to the size of the UK retail industry, stores lost the sixth most globally, behind the USA, Japan, Russia, Germany and China.
The latest report highlights that, in 2014, shoplifting accounted for 26 percent of all inventory loss, while retailers saw £770m stolen by employees and a further £300m lost as a result of supplier errors. Globally, UK stores had the worst level of administrative and non-crime losses, with 40 percent of all shrinkage coming as a result of internal errors, such as pricing mistakes – Brazil was the next highest with 29 percent, followed by Spain at 25 percent.
Russell Holland, global accounts director at Checkpoint Systems, said: "At a time when some profit margins are being squeezed and sales are declining, the level of administrative and non-crime loss in the UK is a concern. The USA reported significantly fewer errors in this area, with it accounting for only 13 per cent of shrinkage, while China and Germany saw levels of 11 per cent and 19 percent respectively. It shows that solutions exist to tackle the problem and we should perhaps be learning from what other leading retail nations are doing to reduce the level of losses."
According to the figures, dishonest employees accounted for a larger share of total shrinkage than the year before – an increase of nine percentage points. Shoplifting and internal errors also accounted for a higher percentage of the total loss in 2014, while the biggest reduction was seen among suppliers, where there was a decline of 12 percentage points on the year before.
The latest edition of the Global Retail Theft Barometer reveals that the UK retail industry continued to spend around £2bn on loss prevention solutions – the equivalent of 0.58 per cent of sales in 2014 – on loss prevention solutions. Of the retailers surveyed, CCTV/DVR, security guards, and alarm monitoring solutions are used by a majority of stores, with three in four respondents reporting usage of each of the solutions.
Among product-specific loss prevention solutions, 63 per cent of retailers used EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance – labels and hard tags/EAS antennas) solutions. Spider wraps and security keepers (38 per cent), and shelving solutions to control product access (38 per cent) were used by retailers in the UK.
GCS (GB) managing director Jeremy Davies said: "As the HTA’s security advisor, garden centre owners and directors contact me for advice on preventing and solving crime affecting their business. The vast majority of problems discussed are associated to external issues such as preventing customer theft.
"National retailers have responded to increased levels of customer theft by investing in improved security, including loss prevention training for staff and technological solutions such as CCTV and security tagging systems. These investments have made many national retailers more difficult to steal from and thieves will naturally choose soft targets such as garden centres.
"I would recommend any garden centre experiencing or wishing to prevent security issues to contact the HTA Security Advice line on 0333 005 0174 where they can obtain free impartial security advice."