Retail theft, including shoplifting, employee theft, administrative error and vendor fraud is down, according to a recent annual survey sponsored by ADT Security .
Preliminary results from the National Retail Security Survey conducted by the University of Florida show that American retailers experienced the lowest rate of loss in the 17-year history of the survey and a continued six-year downward trend. In 2007, retailers lost more than US$34.3 billion or 1.4 percent of overall sales compared to US$40.5 billion and 1.57 % of overall sales in 2006.
According to Phil Brown, National Retail Manager, ADT Security Australia, one likely reason for the decrease in retail theft is the long-term investment by retailers in anti-shoplifting and anti-theft technologies as well as in training.
The study suggests that there is a strong correlation between investment in loss prevention technologies and reduced crime in the retail environment. Over the past year, survey respondents reported an increase in their investment in technologies such as internet-based CCTV monitoring systems. These systems allow retailers to control cameras and view images remotely through the Internet. Another popular loss prevention product was software that allows retailers to analyse transactions and data, giving them a real picture of what is happening in their overall operations, at the store level and even at the employee or sales associate level.
According to Mark Norton, Vice President and General Manager, ADT Security Australia and New Zealand, the decrease in loss for retailers is further evidence that retailers’ investments in technology can pay off and provide excellent return on investment.
One area where US retailers are still battling is organised retail crime, where individuals or organised gangs work to systematically steal large quantities from retailers in stores, warehouses, distribution centres and goods in transit.
The preliminary report shows that more than half of the retailers questioned to date believe that organised retail crime is increasing and 19% say that they now have their own organised retail crime task forces. Norton said that Australian retailers should take this finding into consideration when planning loss prevention strategies of the future.
While the survey shows anti-theft technologies are addressing traditional shoplifting and employee theft in stores, the organised crime findings serve as a timely reminder about the importance of vigilance and the need for continued product innovation.