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Shoplifting for Christmas
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Shoplifting for Christmas 2013

By Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director, Centre for Retail Research Nottingham

Every year the Centre for Retail Research provides a Christmas estimate of retail's likely losses from retail crime in the Christmas season.

Although last year we provided comparisons between 19 different countries, this year we focus exclusively upon the UK. We define Christmas as the six week period from mid-November to the end of December.

Source: Bamfield, J A N (2013) Shoplifting for Christmas 2013: How Criminals Profit From the Festive Season, Nottingham: Centre for Retail Research)

Whilst honest customers are shopping for gifts for others and food and drink for their family, thieves will steal an average of £37.04 per family. At Christmas shoppers buy more goods than they do at similar periods in other parts of the year and a percentage of shoppers certainly try to get the ultimate bargain, which is to pay nothing at all. Others purchase stolen goods from thieves, probably aware that the items have been obtained illegally, but thereby helping to promote the business of crime. Other goods will be stolen by gangs and retailed out by local operators or sold on to no-questions-asked small businesses.

UK Christmas Crime Losses

For 2013, we estimate that Christmas losses in the UK in the six weeks from mid-November to end-December will be as high as £978 million. This figure is based on a new classification of crimes and a different source of data compared to last year and shows a forecast increase of 7.1% against 2012 as crime against retailers is expected to rise by £65 million.

This means that retail crime over Christmas will cost each household a total of £37.04 per family.

UK Christmas Crime 2013

Total crime: £978 million 7.1% increase on 2012

Cyberfraud is losses suffered as a result of internet buying (fake orders and payment fraud) as well as fraudulent attacks on retail businesses. Christmas is the busiest time for online shoppers and more fraud would be expected. Some of the increase of 23% will however be the result of classification changes made by retailers.

What gets Stolen?

Retailers spend a great deal protecting their Christmas stock, customers and employees from criminals.

The most stolen product lines include alcohol, electronic devices (particularly tablets and games consoles), computer games, women's clothing and fashion accessories, toys, perfume and health and beauty gift packs, and toiletries for men, DVD gift sets, food and Christmas decorations, electrical goods including hardware/DIY, watches and jewellery, and chocolates and confectionery.

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