Retailers lost billions to theft in 1995

The Reuters European Business Report via Individual Inc.
With just one week left before the official start of the year's busiest shopping season, a study released Thursday warned retailers that they lose billions each year to theft.

In 1995, retailers lost $27 billion, or 1.9 percent of total sales, due to the combination of employee and customer theft, administrative error and vendor fraud, according to the 1996 National Retail Security Survey conducted by the University of Florida's Security Research Project.

A similar study conducted for the year 1994 showed a slightly lower percentage loss, 1.8 percent of total sales.

The largest share of that loss, $10.4 billion, came from employee theft. Customers -- shoplifters -- were estimated to have stolen more than $9.7 billion.

The survey, funded with a grant by Sensormatic Electronic Corp., collected data from 311 retail companies representing 24 different market segments -- excluding restaurants, bars, auto dealers and direct catalogue sales.

Retail segments with the highest levels of losses were camera and photo, with 5.5 percent; optical, with 3.9 percent; and recorded music and video, with 2.5 percent.

Average losses were reported in women's apparel, books and supermarkets, while the lowest level of shrinkage were found among retailers that control access to their merchandise, among them sellers of wine and beer and consumer electronics.

Respondents reported an average loss of $142.49 per shoplifting incident, $737.31 per employee theft incident and $2,410.33 per armed robbery.

[11-21-96 at 18:33 EST, Copyright 1996, Reuters America Inc.]

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