Shoplifting economics

Why small stuff matters in shoplifting


Ah, self help gurus. They tell you not to sweat the small stuff and instead focus on the big stuff. But is that right? If you notice that your shoelaces are untied but think, "Eh, that's small stuff, I need to focus on the big stuff like that sales presentation coming up!", then you might find the small stuff becomes big stuff. You're pondering the aforementioned presentation as you walk down the stairs, but because those laces are untied, you trip and fall down the stairs. You end up with a bruise on your head and a fractured bone in your extremities. You miss the sales presentation and then you lose the big client. You lose the big client and then you lose your job. You lose your job and then you lose that house. All of a sudden that small stuff is big stuff. So sweat the small stuff.

The same could be said of shoplifting. Dallas is not sending officers to help retailers with small shoplifting cases (cases less than $50). As CheckPoint EAS Systems told us on Twitter, it's an economics thing. Yep, it sure is. Walmart did much the same thing as DPD. They stopped prosecuting shoplifting under $25 and found it was an economics thing as well. They learned how much of an economics thing it was when their shrinkage started climbing dramatically because the criminal element knew if they only shoplifted less than $25 at a time, they wouldn't have to worry about prosecution. Needless to say, Walmart recanted its position.

I'm not faulting Dallas because these cases can still be prosecuted, but the onus to handle these cases is on the retailer now more than the police. So it's the retailers who have to sweat the small stuff, not the police. That doesn't mean to quit sweating it! It just means the economics moves from the police to the retailer. Curtis Baillie, CSC, has a lot more to say about this than I do and he's got a lot more wisdom from his years in loss prevention management. Read his blog post for a better look at the issues and for a little different take on this situation.