34 October 2014
Retailers must always be vigilant for an old risk.
by Phillip M. Perry
PICTURE THIS: SOMEONE RUNS INTO YOUR STORE,
grabs an armful of merchandise and exits through the front
door into a waiting van. The vehicle speeds off before you
have a chance to see the license plate. That scenario can
happen any time. It's just one of the many tricks shoplifters
pull to separate retailers from their merchandise.
No one knows the exact loss figures for shoplifting, but retailers
participating in the University of Florida's annual "National
Retail Security Survey" estimate the crime accounts for
at least one third of the $44 billion dollars in annual
reported shrinkage. The 2012 survey—the latest available—
estimates that another one third is due to employee theft,
with the remainder coming from dishonest vendors and
inventory and bookkeeping errors. The same survey reports
that average retail shrinkage comes to 1.47% of annual sales.
While retailers of all sizes stand to lose profits from
shoplifters, smaller operators are especially at risk. "One or
two clerks in a small store can be easily distracted by a shop-
lifter," says Dr. Richard C. Hollinger, designer of the University
of Florida survey and chair of that institution's department of
sociology and criminology & law. "Often the result is that the
retailer gets cleaned out and has to start over—or even close."