Shoplifting by dishonest customers or retail employees is the cause of more than 78 per cent of shrinkage, a new report analysing global retail crime and loss prevention trends since 2001 has revealed.

The “Changing Retail, Changing Loss Prevention” report, produced by the Centre for Retail Research and commissioned by Checkpoint Systems, found new products in fast-paced categories such as electronics, perfumes and sportswear are amongst the most vulnerable to theft. Fresh meat remains a high-theft category for supermarkets and hypermarkets.

As a result of this, retailers have jumped to action in recent years with the number of merchandise secured from theft increased from 60 per cent in 2007 to 75 per cent in 2011 for the 50-most stolen products. Loss prevention strategies such as EAS source tagging and special high-theft solutions are implemented by more retailers each year. More than 86 per cent of the loss prevention professionals surveyed saw inventory management and/or loss prevention as primary drivers to implement RFID (radio frequency identification).

While the report points out the clear correlation between loss prevention spending and lower shrink, the length and depth of the global recession have resulted in a growth of shrink since 2007. However, many Asia Pacific countries shown less increases in shrinkage as economies bounced back and continued to grow after 2008.

At the same time, online retailing and new payment systems such as smartphones bring new risks to the industry, meaning that LP professionals would benefit from working closely with IT, store operations and marketing to take a growingly strategic view in the fight against crime. The report notes that by developing joint methods of shrink analysis, the electronic surveillance and RFID data from LP, have in turn proven beneficial for marketing, operational and logistics purposes.