Study: Retail losses — and apprehensions — soar in 2022

Deena Amato-McCoy
SPECS Program Director
The average theft value per case hit rose 17% in 2022, to $846.11.

Shrink is on the rise. And so are loss recoveries.

Eighty-one percent of U.S.-based retailers reported that shrink increased in 2022, according to “The 35th Annual Retail Theft Survey,” from loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm Jack L. Hayes International. Average theft value per case hit $846.11 last year, a 17.1% increase from $722.38 in 2021.

The report is based on responses from 26 large retailers across department stores, big-box, specialty apparel and supermarket companies. These retailers represented 22,182 stores and over $700 billion in retail sales in 2022.

The good news is that total apprehensions in 2022 increased 45.6%, and total recovery dollars from these apprehensions jumped 70.5%. Specifically, retailers apprehended a total of 340,488 shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2022, up 45.6% from 2021. These companies recovered over $288 million from arrested thieves — a staggering 70.5% increase from 2021.

When analyzing shoplifting losses specifically, companies reported that last year 295,654 shoplifters were caught, a 50.9% increase compared to 2021. Companies managed to recover more than $237 million from these thieves, a staggering 90.5% increase compared to the prior year.

While not all criminals were apprehended in every theft, retailers still managed to recover $485 million in shoplifting losses from cases where no arrests was made. This was a 44.1% increase compared to 2021, the study said.

“Many retailers returned to making shoplifter apprehensions post-pandemic and focused more of their attention on external theft issues in 2022,” said Mark R. Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International.

Last year, retailers also focused on internal theft and managed to arrest 44,834 dishonest employees — an 18.2% increase from 2021. On a positive note, the average dishonest employee case value in 2022 was $1,136.93 — a 2.8% decrease from 2021. Retailers also recovered $50.9 million in employee thefts — a 14.7% increase in compared to 2021.

Despite retailers’ noteworthy efforts to recoup losses, they are still fighting an uphill battle. For every $1 recovered by surveyed companies, $8.18 was lost to retail theft. Thus, only 10.9% of total retail theft losses resulted in a recovery, the study added.

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