Shrinkage: How Retail Managers are Tackling Shoplifting


Theft in retail (also known as shrinkage) has become a major issue across Australia, with numbers increasing each year. Sales in many stores have declined and the cost of theft has risen with, retail managers now deciding to crack down and take a stand on the issue.

Statistics from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention reveal that 1 in every 11 people are shoplifters and are more likely to steal or attempt to steal something within a retail store than anywhere else. Some even describe themselves as ‘professional shoplifters’. These people are aware of how to shoplift without getting caught, with many using tactics such as their own personal tag detachers that they use in the change rooms, out of sight of retail staff. Others use a simpler approach by entering stores during busy periods and are in and out before any staff member can notice what has happened.

According to a report distributed by the National Retail Association, shrinkage in retail has risen with about $198.4 million worth of stock stolen within a year. These figures are estimated to cover $128.3 million of thefts to customers, $46.7 million of thefts to employees and $23.3 million of thefts to suppliers. Pacific Werribee retail store manager, Makayla has noticed this drastic increase in the retail industry stating. “We have noticed an increase in theft in the store in recent times,” she said. “I feel it is to due people just not having as much disposable income and also probably the fact that many people are not employed full time, so hence they just don’t have as much money to spend”.

For smaller retail companies, these numbers hit their businesses hard. Most of the time, the amount of money lost through shrinkage is money used to pay employees and bills to run the company, so many now in the retail industry are ready for a change by increasing their security measures within stores to prevent an increased amount of shrinkage. Makayla has taken greater precaution for theft in her store.

“We zone our store, so we try to make sure there is a staff member in every area,” she said. “We securely tag all of our stock and we also check on a weekly basis to ensure that security tags are on everything and haven’t been removed. We also do bag checks and have other internal auditing processes we use to minimise theft.”

For the bigger retail stores such as Myer, shrinkage has become an increased problem followed on by the release of its official Myer end-of-year report in 2016, which revealed an increase in shrinkage, with a follow up report in 2017 also noting another year of increased shrinkage. Though Myer does not release the exact figures of their yearly shrinkage, it is clear this is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed. Pacific Werribee Myer brand partner manger, Helena, tells how mangers within major retailers have been preventing shrinkage. “So we security tag all our product, make sure that we have customer service, make sure to approach customers and serve them to deter them [from stealing] with customer service, so there is actually a less chance of them getting away with something in the store,” she said.

The Australian Institute of Criminology reports that 75% of shoplifters are adults, though woman are more likely than males to partake in this. The statistics also show that many of the 25% of shoplifters who are kids, still turning to retail theft in their adult years.









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