UK retailers have struggled to keep their costs down in an ever increasingly competitive environment, which is now being targeted by "organised" and "sophisticated" thieves, who aim for the high-ticket items and cause businesses to spend even on their security systems.
According to the survey, retailers suffered an estimated 3 million offences last year, which results either in the loss or damage of goods. Customer theft accounted for 81 percent of all retail crime in the UK, with the average value of customer theft soaring 36 percent in one year. Five years ago the average value per incident was a mere 45 pounds.
Retailers suffered 3 million offences last year
Employee theft continued to drop for the third year in a row, with items stolen by workers accounting for 6 percent of all retail crime by value, with the average cost per incident reaching 1,031 pounds. Fraud increased by 12 percent in 2013-2014 and accounted for 37 percent of the total cost of crime, with an estimated 59 percent of fraud committed by organised groups. 135,814 incidents of fraud were reported in 2013/14, costing UK retailers a total of 223 million pounds.
Retailers warned that they expect fraud to pose the single most significant threat to their business over the next two years, as cyber crime and attacks continue to pose a critical threat to their businesses. Credit card and debit card online fraud cost UK retailers close to 134 million pounds in 2013-2014 and is predicted to increase over the next year.
In a number of cases of retail crime, violence against members of staff was also reported, with 32 incidents of violence and abuse reported per 1,000 employees in 2013-2014.
Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Criminal activity against UK retailers continues to have wide-ranging consequences for businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers. It is clear that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal."
"Despite an average investment of 2 million pounds per business in crime and loss prevention, retailers need help and support to respond to the threat. Police and Crime Commissioners should follow the lead set by the Mayor of London and work with retailers to develop dedicated business crime strategies to help tackle this growing problem."
One third of respondents who participated in the survey, which accounted for 50 percent of the retail sector by turnover, planned to invest even more in crime and loss prevention over the next two years, whilst half predicted to spend less. Only 14 percent of retailer questioned claimed they would be investing less in security measures.
"Whether it is shop theft or online fraud, tackling crimes affecting retailers benefits everyone. Closer partnership work between the police and businesses achieves more effective, efficient results, the burden on local employers and their workforce is reduced, and our whole community becomes safer."