Retail Shrink Fell in 2011: NRF

NEW ORLEANS — Retail shrinkage — a loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors or supplier fraud—decreased to 1.41% of retail sales ($34.5 billion) in 2011, down from 1.49%  percent ($37.1 billion) in 2010, according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation.

The National Retail Security Survey, released at the NRF’s Loss Prevention Conference and Expo here, is a collaborative effort by the NRF and the University of Florida.

According to preliminary survey findings, the majority of retail shrinkage last year was due to employee theft, accounting 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.

Although overall shrink rates have decreased, retailers are seeing a rise in organized retail crime activity. NRF’s recently released Organized Retail Crime survey found that 96% of retailers have been a victim of organized retail crime over the last 12 months.

“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,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Rich Mellor, in a statement. “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.”