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Retail Crime in the UK
Read about the Global Retail Theft Barometer Dissecting Store Crime
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Retail Crime in the UK


After some yo-yoing during the recession, retail shrinkage declined in 2012-13 to 1.32% of retail sales (compared to 1.37% in 2011). In comparison shrinkage in 2010 had been 1.29% and ten years ago it had been as high as 1.77%.

'Shrinkage' measures stock loss caused by crime, waste and error and is measured as a percentage of retail sales (not costs).

The Costs of Crime: These were the overall 2012-13 crime costs of UK retailers:

Customer theft £2,206 M + 2.8%
Employee theft and Fraud £1,681 M -4.8%
Supplier/warehouse fraud £246M +28.8%
Card fraud £85 M -29.2%
Robbery/burglary £120 M +5.3%
Criminal Damage £81 M +24.6%
Cyberfraud £280M +6.8%
Crime Subtotal £4,699M +6.8%
Security and loss prevention £995 M -2.4%
Crime-related Costs Total £5,694M +4.9%

[Notes - please see end of page]

Crime Losses:
Retail crime losses in the twelve-months 2012-13 were therefore £4,699 million (6.8% higher than 2011, our previous figure), although this figure includes £280 million for cyberfraud, a figure we did not provide in estimates in earlier years. Without the cybercrime figure, the increase in retail crime is only 0.4%.

Security costs:
Security and loss prevention costs also need to be included in the costs of crime, because (1) they are considerable and (2) would not be needed without the existence of crime. In 2012-13 security and loss prevention cost retailers £995 million, a slight fall against 2011 of -2.4%.

These figures come from a stratified sample survey of 150 large retailers, responsible for 28% of UK retail sales. The results have been broken down by trade categories (vertical markets) and then multiplied up to give accurate results for UK retailing as a whole.

[Notes and explanations: customer theft is shoplifting plus deceitful acquisition of goods; supplier/warehouse fraud includes losses in the supply chain; card fraud is the costs to retailers (not banks and not individuals) of card fraud; cyberfraud includes losses resulting from ecommerce and electronic attacks on retailers (not including sales foregone); security and loss prevention are security costs to combat crime and other losses, including staff, security equipment, software, and third-party suppliers.]

Please note also that for consistency shrinkage figures are quoted at retail not cost. This is not because we think that cost-based shrinkage calculations are wrong, simply that although cost levels vary between industries the retail sales figure gives a more consistent shrinkage figure.

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