‘Tis the season to be shoplifting

Peter Terlato 8 November 2016

Shopping theft thief steal stolen

More than one-third of annual retail losses occur during the Christmas period.

The silly season is almost upon us and while most Australians are planning to spend big on gifts this year, a new study reveals a proportion of shoppers and staff intend to give themselves a five-finger discount, with retailers anticipating significant losses in the lead up to Christmas.

The Checkpoint Systems 2016 Retail Holiday Season Global Forecast reveals Australian retailers will experience both the highest sales and greatest shrinkage (losses) during the upcoming holiday shopping season, compared to other Asia-Pacific countries.

Aussies are expected to fork out almost $10 billion on Christmas presents over the next few months, and more than one-third (35%) of retailer's annual losses are also expected during this period.

The cost of retail loss to Aussie shoppers in 2016, as absorbed or passed on from retailers, is expected to average $79 per person.

However, these thefts will not only be committed by shoppers. Employee theft and other sales reducing activities will account for some of the losses.

Of the Australian retailers surveyed for the report, 75% said external theft had risen between the last quarter of 2014 and the last quarter of 2015.

Most items thieved during the holiday season are easily concealed, such as batteries and razors, or are those that can be quickly removed from their packaging, including skincare and cosmetic products. Stock that can be used for entertaining purposes are also likely to be stolen, such as liquor and fresh meat.

Toys, nappies and quilt covers are also prominent on most stolen items lists.

The report provides some clues as to why shoplifting efforts are increased during the Christmas period.

Store product mixes change considerably during the Christmas season to include higher priced merchandise. Therefore, even if theft levels don't change, the value of the products being stolen is higher. Increased foot traffic during this period means there are more opportunities for shoplifters.

The report also suggests people tend to rationalise immoral behaviour during Christmas. For example, stealing children's gifts, compared with thieving new winter apparel.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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