Retail theft slightly decreases in 2011, NRF finds


NEW ORLEANS — Despite reporting an uptick in organized retail crime, the National Retail Federation revealed that retail theft rates decreased in 2011, according to preliminary results of the organization's latest National Retail Security survey.

The results, which were presented at NRF's Loss Prevention Conference and Expo in New Orleans, revealed that retail shrinkage — a loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors or supplier fraud — decreased to 1.41% of retail sales in 2011 ($34.5 billion), down from 1.49% in 2010 ($37.1 billion).

According to the preliminary survey findings, the majority of retail shrinkage in 2011 was due to employee theft, which accounted for 43.9% of total losses. Additionally, shoplifting accounted for approximately 35.7% of total losses, up from just over 32% last year. Other losses included administrative error (12.1% of shrinkage) and vendor fraud (5% of shrinkage). Retailers said that the cause of the remaining shrinkage was unknown.

"Retail theft continues to plague the industry, with billions of dollars of merchandise walking out of the store every day without ever being paid for," NRF VP loss Prevention Rich Mellor said. "Fighting these self-serving and unethical criminals has been a tedious battle, but we remain resolute in our efforts and our partnerships with law enforcement to combat this growing problem."

The study, which surveyed 100 retailers in the first half of 2012 and uses data from 2011, is the result of a partnership between the University of Florida and the National Retail Federation.

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