Shoplifting is one of the most common causes of stock loss, and makes up approximately 60% (nearly two-thirds) of crime committed against wholesale and retail premises, costing the UK more than £600m a year.
The number of shoplifting offences in England has risen by around 25% in the last five years, with an estimated 950,000 instances of shoplifting in the UK last year alone. To put that into context, that’s an average of 2,603 incidents a day or the equivalent of 220 thefts every single hour – costing retailers an average of £9,525 annually and directly affecting their bottom line.
The items most commonly shoplifted are food and groceries – especially cheese, meat, instant coffee, pregnancy tests and razor blades – which account for more than 25% of all shoplifted items, with clothing coming in second, followed by alcohol, cosmetics, and electricals/electronics. But don’t be fooled into thinking the size and types of things you stock are unlikely to be stolen. Some of the largest and weirdest things ever shoplifted include:
- An 8ft Christmas tree (which the salesman helped tie to the car)
- Four large bottles of olive oil
- An entire condom machine
- High-end vacuum cleaners (a common one!)
- $4,000 worth of bras from a Victoria’s Secret store in the US
- £1,000 worth of condoms from Boots in Leicester
- A shopping trolley full of butter
- A chainsaw (by putting it down his shorts)
Also, Britney Spears allegedly once stole a wig off a mannequin in a lingerie store – although we’re not sure if that one’s true…
However, the fact remains that 90% of supermarkets and 22% of all other retail and wholesale premises fall victim to shoplifters each year and, with the average cost per incident of shoplifting rising to £325 in recent years, the additional cost of potentially lost sales can begin to have a huge impact on profitability.
That’s why getting a good grasp on the stock you’re currently holding, as well as an understanding of any stock loss, is absolutely crucial to reducing your wastage costs. If you don’t know what or how much has been stolen you’ll not be able to reorder those products and sell them. Effective stocktaking puts you firmly in control. It’s not just about numbers, figures and counting; it’s about the range of information that those facts and figures give you as a business owner and what you can then do with them to not only improve the current financial position of your business, but also increase profits and performance going forward.
Ultimately we all want the best and most informed information on which to make decisions and this is what an effective stock take should provide you with. Once you’ve identified where and how much stock is being lost during your sales and supply process, you can establish the cause and start taking steps to minimise it.
We’ve been working with businesses to help minimise the causes of stock loss for more than 30 years – from local firms to high-street heavyweights like Primark. If you’d like to talk to us about improving your retail stocktaking then please call our team on 01637 874609 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.