Study: Global shrink down 5.6 percent

According to a new study from the Center for Retail Research, Global theft in 2010 totaled $107.3 billion, a decrease of 5.6 percent from the previous year. Shrink among U.S. retailers was down by 6.8 percent.

Despite the reduction in shrink, however, the 2010 edition of the Global Retail Theft Barometer found that just over 31 percent of global retailers reported an increase in actual or attempted shoplifting in 2010. That figure was even higher in the U.S., with nearly 37 percent of retailers reporting an increase in actual or attempted theft.

The study, which was sponsored by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, also found that while shrink may be decreasing, consumers are still footing a hefty bill for retail theft around the world.

"Even with the shrink decrease, retail crime cost the average family in the 42 countries surveyed an extra $186 on their shopping bill," said Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the study in a statement. "In the U.S., that number was $422.68, a phenomenal figure."

On a more positive note, it appears that retailers' financial investments to help curtail theft are being rewarded, as the study showed a correlation between increased security spending and reduced shrink. In 2010, retailers spent $26.8 billion globally on security, a nearly 10 percent increase over 2009.

"The correlation between increased security spending and a global 5.6 percent decrease in theft is very significant," said Bamfield. "It highlights the importance of continued advancement and improvement of loss prevention programs, as reducing theft is key to the success and growth of retailers' businesses."

Some additional highlights from the study include; an increase in shrink among children’s wear, outerwear, shaving products, luxury cooked meats, and infant formula; customer theft (shoplifting and organized retail crime) accounted for the majority of shrink at 42.4 percent, followed by employee theft at 35.3 percent; and, India had the highest rate of shrink as a percentage of sales (2.72 percent of retail sales), while Taiwan had the lowest (0.87 percent of retail sales).