Apparel stores targeted by theft more than rest of High Street
This is according to a new survey from the Retail Loss Prevention Fashion Forum.
The Forum, the most established of the eight ORIS LP Forums that collectively generate a turnover of hundreds of millions of pounds and employ tens of thousands of staff, took the decision to measure crime in its own sector because their perception of losses seemed to out of sync with the industry norm, as recorded by other retail surveys.
The findings reveal that although customer theft was in decline and largely in line with other surveys, internal theft was more than 30% of all fashion theft, whereas it represented single-digit per cent of the rest of the high Street, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) crime survey.
“Over recent years there have been a number of retail crime reports ranging from the BRC’s annual survey to the Global Retail Theft Barometer and the Retail Fraud Survey,” said Mitch Haynes, the chair of the Forum.
“We felt that these reports measured different indices and in many instances did not reflect the true nature of the loss landscape in the fashion retail industry. This was particularly illustrated by the different measures on internal theft – one year representing 7% of overall losses, according to one survey, while another put the figure closure to 40% for the same period,” said Haynes, who is head of security for Aurora Fashions, the company behind brands including Karen Millen, Coast and Warehouse.
A more compact survey was carried out to probe specific levels of stock loss, police response to crime reports, the investment and deployment of LP personnel, technology (EAS tagging, CCTV), restitution (civil recovery) and so-called whistle blowing services etc.
According to the survey, overall the losses came down to an average of 1.41% of sales compared to two years ago when the figure was at 1.46%. The Fashion Forum members’ interpretation of this decrease is reflective of the whole of the high street – when foot fall is sluggish and sales are down, businesses put more focus on protecting the bottom line i.e. the reduction of stock loss through better loss prevention technology and improved systems for stock file accuracy.
Fashion retailers are witnessing an increase in employee theft – an average of 32.3% of Loss is attributed to internal theft, which is no longer ‘the elephant in the room’ and is a key focus for shrinkage reduction. The last Global Theft Barometer suggested that internal theft was at 35% while, by stark contrast, the BRC reported employee dishonesty was just 4%.
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