Shoplifting Is Costing You $290 A Year

Shoplifting Is Costing You $290 A Year

As any armchair anarchist will tell you, shoplifting doesn’t cost retail stores anything, because they factor the cost of stolen goods into their pricing — if nobody stole, we’d be giving them money for free. While this viewpoint is more than a little dubious, it can’t be denied that Australians get slugged with a pretty hefty premium to offset in-store losses. According to Euromonitor International’s latest Global Retail Theft report, more than $2,413 million is lost to ‘retail shrinkage’ in Australia each year, with customers forced to pay an annual “honesty tax” of $290.

Shoplifting picture from Shutterstock

Shoplifting has overtaken employee theft as the main cause of retail shrinkage in Australia, contributing to a massive $2,413 million in annual losses. Here’s a breakdown of the chief stats as they appear in the GRTB report:

In Australia, customer theft accounted for 45% of the losses, costing $1086 million to the retail industry, while employee theft accounted for 27% or $652 million. Supplier fraud has accounted for 7% ($169 million) with administrative errors and non-­‐crime losses accounting for 21% ($507 million).

While this is a blip compared to the $112 billion lost globally, Australian households were found to have the second highest ‘honesty tax’ in the world, with increased prices to compensate for retail loss working out to around $290 per household, per year. (Consumers in the United States have it slightly worse, at $296 per household.)

Interestingly, while shoplifting seems to be on the rise, employee theft has experienced a marked drop. According to Checkpoint Systems, which funded the report, this is due to improved staff training and emerging security solutions such as radio frequency electronic article surveillance (EAS) which has made it harder for staff to steal from their place of work. Retailers are urged to revaluate security measures as they relate to customers.

“Most retailers still have a way to go by expanding existing loss prevention solutions providing a sure return on investment to reduce theft,” said Checkpoint Systems’ president Per Levin.

“Forward-looking retailers are deploying RFID-based solutions that combine protection with visibility at the item level. This type of strategic platform, combined with investments in people and processes, opens up new horizons to reduce out of stocks, improve merchandise availability for consumers and increase sales for the retailers.”

According to the report, some of the most common items stolen in Australia include fashion accessories, jeans, footwear, lingerie/intimate apparel, high-value electronics, health products, video games and mobile device accessories.

You can check out the full Global Retail Theft Barometer report by requesting a copy here.

See also: How To Remove Security Tags From Clothing | Why Express Checkout Lines Are Often A Waste Of Time


  • With a figure on it, the authorities should be able to do the math and adjust community service for the ones that get caught to make up for that loss.

    • I suppose it would depend on if you are using the UK or US version of a billion.
      The US uses the short scale version, which is effectively one thousand billion, whereas the UK uses the long scale – one million million.

      Either way, all I can imagine when I write this, is Dr. Evil saying “ONE MILLION DOLLARS”

  • I recall a similar argument for piracy of games. Even when “cartridges” came out to minimize piracy, prices _didn’t_ come down.
    I’m skeptical to say the least. If shoplifting stopped tomorrow, prices wouldn’t change.

  • How exactly can they tell that goods are disappearing via way of shoplifting instead of employee theft? Is there a little “how was your stealing experience” survey left for offenders to complete to indicate who took an item? Surely (aside from the people getting caught of course), as far as retail goes there’s no way of knowing whether it’s Joe Public having stolen something or Jane Employee..

  • As both an ex store manager and an “ex” thief I have a unique perspective on this topic.

    First shrinkage is not just theft, sometimes they throw in things that were broken in transit or that the staff used in the store (which should be processed differently but makes the numbers look better if under shrinkage). And store managers and Staff are the biggest thieves.

    Secondly, as a thief one simply does not care about pricing structure, hidden taxes etc for one takes what one wants. Survival of the fittest, if they can’t stop you from taking it then why shouldn’t you take it. Of course this mentality also means if you are caught and prosecuted you shouldn’t whine because they clearly could stop you and you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to stop them. You were weak.

    Oh and as a sidenote, store managers commit fraud pretty much every hour to keep shit running.

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