The BRC’s annual Retail Crime Survey report reveals that the total cost of theft to the UK retail industry in 2014-15 was £613million, a two per cent increase on the previous year and the highest cost on record. The average value of goods stolen rose by over a third to £325 per incident of customer theft, another all-time high.
Despite this, the total number of offences has dropped for the second year running. Retailers in the BRC’s sample reported 750,144 offences over the last year, a drop of two per cent compared to 2013-14. The high value of items stolen compared to the drop in total number of crimes has led industry experts to conclude that crime against retailers is increasingly being carried out by sophisticated criminals stealing to order.
This conclusion was borne out by data showing that fraud is also on the rise. The majority of retailers surveyed reported that the level of cyber-attacks had increased or remained unchanged in the last year and fraud rose by 55 per cent, now accounting for more than a third of the cost of crime against retailers (36 per cent).
The human cost of retail crime has also grown. Data collected showed that there had been a 28 per cent increase in offences involving abuse or violence, rising to 41 out of every 1,000 crimes committed compared to 32 out of 1,000 reported last year.
BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said: “These figures demonstrate the growing cost of crime against retailers – both human and financial. At a time when retailers have been cutting the cost of food and clothing to reduce the average price of our weekly shopping baskets, a small number of criminals are using ever-more sophisticated techniques to seize luxury items and to target retail employees with abuse and violence in their place of work.”
The report makes a series of recommendations which the BRC has pledged to work with law enforcement agencies to implement. They have called for retailers to be consulted when crime-fighting priorities are agreed, whether at a national or local level and have suggested a series of improvements to national measurements of the impact of retail crime across the UK.
View the latest survey here