NRF survey: retail fraud, shoplifting rates down

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Washington, D.C. A report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation found that retail shrinkage decreased to 1.44% of retail sales in 2009, down from 1.51% in 2008.

The National Retail Security Survey, conducted jointly by the NRF and the University of Florida, and unveiled at the NRF’s Loss Prevention conference in Atlanta, cited the easing of economic pressures as the reason for the subsiding of theft and other criminal activity in stores.

According to the survey, total retail losses cost retailers $33.5 billion last year, down from $36.5 billion 2008.

“Retailers lose billions to shoplifting, internal theft and other types of criminal activity every year, so it’s encouraging to see these small successes when it comes to shrink rates,” said NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca. “Just as the industry battles organized crime rings on a daily basis, retailers are also faced with the daunting task of protecting their merchandise from everyday criminals because they are greedy and self-serving.”

According to the survey, the majority of retail shrinkage last year was due to employee theft, at $14.4 billion, accounting for 43% of total losses. Retailers lost $11.7 billion to shoplifting, which is 35% of total losses. Other losses included administrative error ($4.9 billion and 14.5% of shrinkage) and vendor fraud ($1.3 billion and 3.8% of shrinkage).