National Retail Security Survey: Retail shrinkage totaled $34.5 billion in 2011

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Loss Prevention Conference and EXPOIn New Orleans yesterday, where thousands of senior retail loss prevention executives and solution providers are gathered for NRF’s Loss Prevention Conference and Expo, University of Florida’s Dr. Richard Hollinger quantified exactly how retail theft is impacting the industry. Preliminary findings of the latest National Retail Security Survey suggest retailers in 2011 lost $34.5 billion to retail theft, or shrink – the loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors, or supplier fraud. Overall that accounts for approximately 1.41 percent of retailers sales last year.

Dr. Richard Hollinger, University of Florida

Though this is a slight decrease from the 1.49 percent retailers reported in 2010, $34 billion is no drop in the bucket. Retailers, in the business of people pleasing, could use that money for an array of things, including store design, adding additional locations or even promotions for their shoppers.

Though it remains a significantly troubling piece of the pie, shoplifting and employee theft make up more than half of equation. This year, retailers reported that employee theft accounted for approximately 43.9 percent of total losses while shoplifting accounted for approximately 35.7 percent of total losses. Shoplifting rates actually increased from 32 percent reported last year.

As a part of NRF’s LP ’12 educational programming, loss prevention professionals from bebe Stores and Ascena Retail Group shared tips reducing shrink levels within retail companies of all sizes. View the tips here.

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