Loss of items to shoplifters — commonly called ‘shrinkage’ in the retail industry — cost the overall U.S. retail economy $45.2 billion in 2015. That’s a figure courtesy of the 2016 National Retail Security Survey (NRSS).
The average loss was $377 per shoplifting incident, which is up nearly 60% from 2014.
Yet while shoplifting is the number one cause of retail shrinkage, it’s followed closely by employee theft and that can be much more costly to retailers.
In fact, each dishonest employee case that a retailer faces amounts to an average loss of $1,233.77, according to the NRSS.
A total of 80 retailers participated in the 2016 NRSS, which was conducted from March 22 to April 22, 2016 by online survey.
While the NRSS no longer compiles data individually on the most commonly stolen items, BusinessInsurance.org reports that this is the latest list of what people are stealing:
- Baby formula
- OTC medications
You can add this bonus item to the list…
According to a Dollar General manager named Brandon who recently did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about his job there should be a tenth bonus item added to this list: Tide Pods.
‘The two most shoplifted items [at my Dollar General store are] a tie between clothes and Tide Pods,’ he writes. ‘People were just slicing open the Tide Pod Pouches and dumping them into a bag.’
‘But I’ve seen a lot of [other strange] things get stolen like two packs [of] hot cocoa mix out of a box, a few trash bags out of a box, a few Ziploc bags out of a box that were only a dollar to begin with…tons more.’
So what does this all mean to you as a law-abiding citizen?
You should expect retailers — both the good ones and the bad ones — to double down on their brutally tough retail policies to counter the losses they’re facing from shrinkage of all types.
Don’t be surprised if you’re practically treated as a criminal when you go to return something — especially if you don’t have the receipt! They’re just trying to protect themselves against organized crimes rings that make a living fencing stolen goods.
More and more stores now have those gift receipts if you ask. So be sure to ask for them to help make returns easier!
Some retailers maintain databases by driver’s license of how many returns you make over time. They may shut you down if you try returning something without that physical receipt — even if it is a legit purchase.
There are a number of apps that will catalog receipts for you on your phone. All you do is take a picture of the receipt and these apps will catalog by date and store. So that way you do have a proof of purchase always handy!