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Retailers’ toughest season

Written on December 19, 2011

Retailers are set to face one of the toughest holiday seasons on record according to new figures.

It’s predicted that over £1 billion worth of goods will be lost from stores in the run up to Christmas[1], thanks to festive shoplifters, light-fingered employees and those responsible for supply chain fraud in the UK.

The figures, by the Centre for Retail Research – which also produces the Checkpoint Systems-sponsored Global Retail Theft Barometer – highlight that an additional £61 million of goods is expected to go missing during the ‘season of goodwill’ this year compared to 2010, as Professor Joshua Bamfield, pictured, Director of the Centre for Retail research and author of the study, says: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the industry that shoplifting, employee theft and supply chain fraud are likely to increase during the festive period – after all, retailers are less rigorous in their controls at this time of the year. However, the implications should not be underestimated. Christmas crime has increased by 6.2% since the 2010 research, which is symptomatic of the tough times we are facing as a nation. The double pressures of a weak economy combined with the most expensive time of the year will inevitably lead to an increase in loss so unfortunately it is likely that it will worsen further before it gets any better.”

Of the £1.041 billion set to go missing during the holiday season, £656 million is expected to be down to shoplifters with a further £302 stolen by staff and £83 million lost through supply chain fraud.

Neil Matthews, Vice President, Northern, Central & Eastern Europe at shrinkage management and merchandise visibility specialists Checkpoint Systems, adds: “We are naturally advising retailers to be on their guard during the holiday season. With more customers passing through the doors and additional staff drafted in to cover the busy period, it is essential that store operators are vigilant and aware of the potential risks before they arise.

“Retailers are doing their best in the fight against retail crime and it would be a shame if all their work was undone thanks to a group of dishonest individuals. At the end of the day, if stores don’t have the right solutions in place to help them reduce festive fraud, the products won’t be available on shelf for consumers when they want them and there is a strong likelihood that the consumer will shop elsewhere.”

The Global Retail Theft Barometer recently highlighted that retailers lost £4.9 billion to shoplifting, fraud, organised retail crime and administrative errors[2] between June 2010 and July 2011.

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[1] Period covers the six weeks between mid-November and the end of December
[2] Otherwise known as ‘shrinkage.’