Shoplifting, Return Fraud, & Employee Theft at All Time High

By Joe Skupinsky

employee theft

Operators are increasingly focused on loss prevention, and for good reason - retail shrinkage is increasing. Products are disappearing from shelves faster than you can one-click order that same product on Amazon - the other threat to brick and mortar retailers.

The annual National Retail Security Survey from the University of Florida analyzed retail shrinkage in the United States. Four numbers stood out in the results:

  • $48.9 billion: total losses resulting from retail shrinkage; up $3 billion since 2015
  • $798: average loss attributed to shoplifting incident; it was only $377 in 2015, and shoplifting is the number 1 cause of retail shrinkage
  • $1,766: average loss attributed to return fraud  
  • $1,922: average loss attributed to employee theft

Half of retailers surveyed reported increases in inventory shrink. Shrink is divided into shoplifting and organized retail crime (36.5%), employee theft/internal (30%), administrative paperwork (21.3%), unknown loss (6.8%) and vendor fraud or error (5.4%).

If there’s a silver lining in any of these survey results, it’s that the average cost of retail robberies in 2016 dropped compared to 2015. However, it is still more than double the average cost in 2014.

“Retailers are proactive in combating criminal activity in their stores, but acknowledge that they still have a lot of work left to do,” said Bob Moraca, NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention. “The job is made much more difficult when loss prevention experts can’t get the money they need to beef up their staffs and resources. Retail executives need to realize that money spent on preventing losses is money that improves the bottom line.”

To prevent loss, retail executives and operators need a better vantage point into their stores. They need to understand weaknesses that make them vulnerable to shoplifting and return fraud; then, operators can intervene and train employees. Operators also need to know how their store and field level employees are performing if they want to prevent employee theft.

This is where Zenput comes in - it’s a practical, cost-effective solution to improve daily retail operations. An annual Zenput subscription is less than the cost of one shoplifting incident. Schedule a demo to learn how Zenput will improve your bottom line.

Topics: loss prevention