Latest figures reveal that retailers have seen an average increase of 4% in shoplifting incidents in the past year, with over 370,000 offences reported in 2017-18.
Overall, a total of 378,725 shoplifting incidents were recorded in the UK during the financial year of April 2017-March 2018, which is up 4% on the previous year, April 2016-March 2017.
In total, 67% of regional police forces across the UK saw an increase in shoplifting offences during the year, ranging from just a 1% rise, to 21%. This is a worrying trend, considering the cost to retailers annually was recently reported to be around £800million.
Dyfed-Powys Police recorded the lowest number of shoplifting incidences (1,861), but saw the highest year-on-year percentage increase, up 21%.
Other areas that posted significant increases of this particular crime, included Cleveland Police, up 20%; Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Humberside constabularies, who all experience an uplift of 17%; and Cambridge, Wiltshire, Durham, Cheshire, Devon & Cornwall police forces, who saw a 14% rise in shoplifting.
The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of shoplifting incidences at an astonishing 46,840 – the equivalent of 128 incidents a day. However, this was actually down 2% on the previous year. Meanwhile, although Northampton Police was ranked 29th, with 4,518 reported offences, it had the most notable percentage decrease for year-on-year shoplifting, down 14%.
OnBuy.com managing director Cas Paton commented on the latest results: “The findings from this research are intriguing. With the overall number of shoplifting incidents increasing from the previous year, it’s a crime which is financially burdening retailers.
“It’s unfortunate because many owners spend a lot of time, money and energy ensuring all aspects of their operations are running effectively and efficiently. Whilst shoplifting may seem difficult to prevent, there are certain cost-effective precautions retailers can take to deter shoplifters from targeting them. Precautions such as training employees to identify the behaviours associated with shoplifters and appropriate signage to warn potential offenders about the seriousness of the matter”.
To help retailers tackle the issue, OnBuy.com has issued four inexpensive tips that are designed to reduce and prevent shoplifting:
Stock products on shelves in an organised and identifiable manner. In doing so, it will allow you to easily spot if anything has gone missing. If you don’t have the time or manpower to continually re-stock and take an inventory, then push products to the front of shelves to create a solid wall.
Have one employee always at the front of the store to greet customers as they come in. This will be a clear indication to any potential shoplifter(s) that staff are aware of who has entered the shop and consistently aware of their behaviours/actions throughout the premises.
Train employees to spot the behaviours which are typically exhibited by potential shoplifters. Some of these consist of: Being in the same aisle for a long period of time, spending more time watching the cashier than shopping, wearing heavy/bulky clothing when it is warm outside, repeatedly looking around when picking up items and carrying an unusually large bag/purse.
Make sure you have plenty of signs throughout the store which clearly state, 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' and ‘all products under surveillance’. These signs will send a message to any opportunistic shoplifters that you take the matter very seriously and will take the appropriate actions if someone is caught committing a shoplifting crime.