Retail theft costs your family $422 a year
Businesses spent more on security and saw the rate of loss decline. But razors are still vanishing.
Here's a bill nobody wants to pay: $422.68 a year for items other people steal from stores.
That's right. The average American family pays $422.68 a year in increased prices to compensate for items lost to retail theft, the highest amount in the world, according to the 2010 Global Retail Theft Barometer Study. The study measured the period from July 2009 to June 2010.
But before you declare war on shoplifters, know that the greatest amount of retail theft in the U.S., 43.7%, is committed by store employees, followed by 35% by shoplifters and organized theft groups.
On the bright side, what the industry calls "shrink" -- which includes shoplifting, employee theft and administrative errors -- dropped 6.8% in the U.S. last year (5.6% worldwide) after rising 9% the year before.
You might think the most shoplifted items would be small electronics, and those items certainly are stolen. But the most stolen items since 2003 have been men's razors, particularly the expensive Gillette Mach series, reports Ryan Goldberg at Minyanville, which also has details on other commonly stolen items. Goldbert reports:
At the end of March, in one example, police raided 35 locations in Baltimore County, including pawn shops, residences, and warehouses, and turned up about $22 million in stolen merchandise, mostly from grocery chain Wegmans, and produced 15 arrests in one of the nation's largest organized retail crime cases.
Even the Russian mafia reportedly has gotten into the hot razor business.
While overall "shrink" is down, according to the Global Retail Theft study, more than 30% of U.S. retailers reported an increase in theft last year, and 47.8% reported being victims of "organized retail crime." The theft rate increased for some types of items, including children's wear, outerwear, shaving products, luxury cooked meats and infant formula.
The authors of the study, done by the Centre for Retail Research with a grant from Checkpoint Systems, attributed the decline in shrinkage to added security -- one of the ways retail theft costs consumers. U.S. retailers increased their spending on loss prevention 12.5% during the study period.
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Your No. 1 priority needs to be keeping safe. But after that, you can save yourself some grief by making careful records -- and keeping all your receipts.