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NRF: Retail loss ‘shrinks’ in 2017

Retailers are making progress when it comes to fighting criminal activity and lowering their shrink rates.

Thefts, fraud and losses from other retail “shrink” decreased to $46.8 billion in 2017 from $48.9 billion the year before, according to the annual National Retail Security Survey released today by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida.

According to the data, shrink averaged 1.33% of sales, down from 1.44% the year before. A total of 59% of retailers surveyed said shrink was flat or decreasing, up from 51%. Only 41% said shrink was growing, down from 49%.

“Retailers are making progress in combating criminal activity, but there are still many challenges,” NRF VP of loss prevention (LP) Bob Moraca said. “Whether the threat is coming from cybersecurity, organized retail crime or employee theft, the job for retail security teams continues to become more difficult every day, especially when resources and staff are limited.”

Shoplifting and organized retail crime continued to be the leading causes, accounting for 36% of losses. This was followed by internal employee theft (33%), administrative paperwork errors (19%) and vendor fraud or mistake (6%).

The most substantial losses per incident came from retail robberies, at an average $4,237.02 each (down from $5,309.72 the year before), followed by employee theft at $1,203.16 (down from $1,922.80), and shoplifting/ORC at $559 (down from $798.48).

For the first time in the survey, retailers were asked about their role in combating cybercrime. Two-thirds of LP executives said they meet at least quarterly with IT/cybersecurity counterparts to discuss potential threats, and 86% said their companies have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place.

Cybersecurity concerns are top-of-mind for retailers today as criminals continue to become more sophisticated in this area,” said Richard Hollinger, a veteran University of Florida criminology professor and the lead author of the report. “This is a growing threat that will require more resources going forward. Retail executives need to invest more in loss prevention to reduce these losses to their bottom line.”
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