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The real cost of retail crime

By November 8, 2019September 26th, 2023No Comments

A major concern for the retail industry is crime and theft, particularly as this has a direct impact on business viability and profitability – every stolen item causes a direct reduction in profits.

The scope of retail crime includes customer theft, employee theft, robberies and burglaries, fraud, cyber attacks and violent attacks. Fundamentally, retail theft makes stores less competitive, reduces profits and increases prices.

Costs to industry

The increasing costs of retail crime, both in losses and the cost of prevention, are a huge burden to a retail sector.The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) 2018 Retail Crime Survey reveals the vast cost of crime to retail businesses across the country.

The total cost of crime and crime prevention for retailers in 2018 was £1.9 billion (an increase of 12% on the £1.7bn of the previous year). This colossal total is made up of £900 million direct costs from retail crime, and a further £1 billion spent on the efforts to prevent crime.

“Approximately 70% of the retail crime survey respondents described the police response to retail crime as poor or very poor.”

To give the total cost of retail crime, at £1.9bn, some perspective, it is equivalent to approximately 20% of the estimated profits of the entire retail industry.

Preventative measures

Retailers are actively pursuing many preventative measures to ensure that customers, staff members and contractors are safe and protected. Record amounts are now being spent by retailers on measures to prevent crime and combat retail theft. This is leading to an increased burden on the economic viability of retail outlets and is not, in many cases, a sustainable expense.

Police response

Retail industry leaders believe that retail crime should be explicitly addressed by police and crime plans. Approximately 70% of the retail crime survey respondents described the police response to retail crime as poor or very poor. Although opinions also showed that the police response was generally better for violent crime incidents.

Retail security services

Guardforce Security Services has many years of experience in the provision of high-quality retail security services helping to protect retail property, stock and staff.

Specific retail security services include:

  • discreet store detectives
  • routine uniformed patrols
  • cash handling
  • inventory control
  • alarm setting
  • supervision of cleaning staff and other contractors

Employing some or all of these measures can help in reducing loss prevention, whilst benefiting the bottom line of retail businesses, as well as providing a high visibility deterrent to deter would-be shoplifters.

Download the British Retail Consortium’s Annual Retail Crime Survey here


For more information on our retail security services, call us now on 0330 999 0039 or email