Shoplifting and fraud affects U.S. retailers and consumers at the wallet. In fact, during the 2012 Christmas shopping season, American retailers could lose approximately $4 billion through shoplifting, $4.7 billion through employee theft and $400 million via vendor and distribution losses, according to a shoplifting/fraud report conducted by The Centre for Retail Research.
The study, titled: Shoplifting For Christmas 2012: How Criminals Profit From The Festive Season, sponsored by Checkpoint Systems, indicated that the $8.9 billion loss adds approximately $100 to each U.S. family’s holiday shopping bill. The report also included a list of the top 10 items most likely to be stolen.
The Centre identifies the Christmas shopping season as the six-week period from mid-November to the end of December. Data for the Shoplifting For Christmas report was collected from 300 retailers and compared to the Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011 (GRTB), released by The Centre last year.
The shoplifting/fraud report also found that retailers will experience and $8.9 billion losses during this 6 week period and are expected to be up 4% compared to 2011.
Why Retail Crimes Are High During Christmas Season
For retailers, Christmas is the busiest time of the year, making it easier for shoppers to steal without being noticed. “Certain expensive goods, such as perfume, popular DVDs, fashion and books, are in high demand,” according to the fraud report, “and the price achieved for a stolen product … can be much higher than at other times of the year.”
Fraud also is high during this time because consumers spending a great deal of money are looking to cut costs, making them susceptible targets for cheap, stolen goods.
“The Christmas season is an attractive time for criminals,” said Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of The Centre for Retail Research. “Thieves take advantage of busy stores to steal high-value, high-demand goods. As a result, retailers face a big threat from professional and semi-professional thieves, many of whom steal goods with the intention of reselling them. Organized retail crime (ORC) is a major concern for retailers ― especially since the average amount stolen per incident is much higher than ‘normal’ thefts.”
The 10 most stolen goods this Christmas are expected to be:
- Women’s clothing and fashion accessories;
- Health and beauty gift packs, and perfume;
- Electronic devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, and men’s toiletries;
- DVD gift sets and game consoles;
- Food and Christmas decorations;
- Electrical goods including hardware/DIY;
- Watches and jewelry; and
- Chocolates and confectionery.
Theft and fraud were used synonymously in the report; retail losses due to error, waste and procedural failings were not covered in this study.