Retail shrinkage continues to expand

Shoplifting, employee theft and organized crime have combined to boost retail shrinkage to 1.58%, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). These preliminary results, compiled from a survey conducted by Dr. Richard Hollinger of the University of Florida, compare with a 1.44% shrinkage rate in 2009.

According to the survey, total retail losses cost retailers $37.1 billion last year, up from $33.5 billion in 2009. NRF’s recently released Organized Retail Crime survey found that 95% of retailers have been victims of organized retail crime over the last 12 months.

The preliminary results found that the majority of retail shrinkage last year was due to employee theft, at $16.2 billion, accounting for 43.7% of total losses. Retailers reported that 18.7% of cases involved collusion between internal and external bad actors. Retailers lost $12.1 billion to shoplifting, which is 32.6% of the total losses. Other losses included administrative error ($4.8 billion and 12.9% of shrinkage) and vendor fraud ($2 billion and 5.4% of shrinkage). Retailers said that the cause of the remaining shrinkage was unknown.