Retail theft, including shoplifting, employee theft, administrative error and vendor fraud is down, according to a recent annual survey conducted by the University of Florida with a funding grant from ADT Security Services. The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) preliminary results show the lowest rate of loss in the 17-year history of the survey and a continued six-year downward trend. Last year retailers lost more than $34.3 billion or 1.4 percent of overall sales compared to $40.5 billion and 1.57 percent of overall sales in 2006 (see also ADT Security Services, Inc.).
One likely reason for the decrease in retail theft is the long-term investment by retailers in anti-shoplifting and anti-theft technologies and training, according to University of Florida criminologist Richard Hollinger, Ph.D., who directed the National Retail Security Survey.
"The study shows there is good evidence that anti-theft technologies, properly implemented, are having a positive effect on reducing crime in the retail environment," he said.
Over the past year, retailers report increasing their investment in technologies such as Internet-based video systems. These systems allow retailers to control cameras and view images via the Internet. Another hot loss prevention product is software that allows retailers to analyze transactions and data giving them a real picture of what is happening in their overall operations, at the store level and even at the employee or sales associate level.
"The decrease in loss for retailers is further evidence that retailers' investments in technology can pay off and provide excellent return on investment," said Jeffrey Bean, vice president ADT retail sales and operations. "At ADT we have had a long partnership with retailers in the fight against theft and we offer them a full breadth of integrated solutions to do just that."
One area where retailers are still battling is organized retail crime where individuals or organized gangs work to systematically steal large quantities from retailers in stores, warehouses, distribution centers and goods in transit.
"While the survey suggests we are making inroads on traditional shoplifting and employee theft in stores, the problem of organized retail crime is still very real and something we need to take on as an industry," said Joe La Rocca, the National Retail Federation's vice president of loss prevention. "We need stronger laws to crack down on this type of crime and make it more difficult for criminals to resell stolen goods."
The preliminary report shows that more than half of the 124 retailers questioned to date believe that organized retail crime is increasing and 19 percent say that they now have their own organized retail crime task forces.