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Insight: retail crime costs sector £1.9 billion

A new survey has found that the total cost of crime and crime prevention to retailers rose by 12% year-on-year to £1.9 billion in 2018.


Insight: retail crime costs sector £1.9 billion

A new survey has found that the total cost of crime and crime prevention to retailers rose by 12% year-on-year to £1.9 billion in 2018.

The British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey found that this comprised £900 million in direct costs from retail crime, and £1 billion spent on efforts to prevent crime.

The direct costs of crime included £700 million being lost to consumer theft with the loss being up 31% on the previous year.

Helen Dickinson BRC chief executive, said: “The spiralling cost of retail crime – both in losses and the cost of prevention – are a huge burden to a retail sector that is already weighed down by the twin challenges of skyrocketing business costs and Brexit uncertainty.”

While the survey found that 115 retail employees were attacked at work every day, some 70% of repondents described the police response to retail crime as poor or very poor. Furthermore, only 20% thought the response was good or excellent. 

Dickinson said: “Violence against employees remains one of the most pressing issues retailers face, yet once again we have seen an increase in the overall number of incidents. Such crimes harm not just hardworking employees, but also on their families and communities. No one should go to work fearing threats and abuse.

“We hope this report will act as a catalyst for Police and Crime Commissioners around the country to take action. Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by Police and Crime Plans. Furthermore, Parliament must play its part in stemming this tide of crime by creating a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from assault at work, as has been done for emergency workers.”

The study also looked at cyber-security and found that retailers are increasing their spending on the issue by 17% on last year. In addition, it revealed that nearly 80% of the retailers questioned have seen a rise in the number of cyber attacks.  

Clare Gardiner, the National Cyber Security Centre’s director of engagement, said: “Cyber attacks can have a huge impact, but to help potential victims pro-actively defend themselves we have published a range of easy-to-implement guidance on our website.

“Organisations can also share threat intelligence in a confidential way through the NCSC’s online Cyber Information Sharing Partnership, which increases awareness to dangers and reduces the impact on UK businesses.”

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