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The world's biggest shoplifters; India No. 1!

Last updated on: November 24, 2010 08:31 IST

The world's biggest shoplifters; India No. 1!

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India: 2.72%

Even as scams of various hues and reports of rising corruption continue to ravage the nation, India now has yet another humiliation to contend with.

India's retail industry has once again topped the Global Retail Theft Barometer survey for 2010.

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Image: Shoplifting is decreasing in India, yet it remains the highest anywhere in the world.
Photographs: Reuters
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Morocco: 1.64%

With a shrinkage rate of 1.64 per cent of total retail sales, Morocco is the second in the ranking of nations with highest shoplifters.

India has topped the retail 'shrinkage' rate -- which is a reduction or loss in inventory due to shoplifting, theft and process failures -- in 42 countries surveyed across the world, for the third year in a row.

This means Indians are the topmost shoplifters in the world, if the annual survey -- conducted by the Centre for Retail Research in Nottingham, United Kingdom, and sponsored by Checkpoint Systems, a shrink management and merchandise visibility firm -- is to be believed.

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Image: Morocco.
Photographs: Reuters
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Brazil: 1.64%

Brazil, too, ranks second at 1.64 per cent shrinkage of retail sales.

Retailers in India have the highest 'shrinkage rate' at 2.7 per cent of sales, although it is down by 15 per cent from 2009's report when it stood at 3.2 per cent.

The Indian retail sector lost Rs 9,295.9 crore (Rs 92.959 billion) to shoplifting and theft during the 12-month period ended June, 2010, which added Rs 6,631 to the shopping bill of the average family, according to a survey.

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Middle East/Africa: 1.62%

Middle East/Africa (this is how the study has ranked the region) has a shrinkage rate of 1.62 per cent of retail sales making it the region with the 3rd highest shoplifters.

"Retail shrinkage in India continues to rank the highest in the world at 2.7 per cent. Total cost of retail crime reached Rs 9,295.9 crore, shared at Rs 6,631 per family," according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer Study (GRTB).

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South Africa: 1.62%

South African retailers too suffer 1.62 per cent shrinkage of sales due to shoplifting.

In India, 47.3 per cent of retail shrinkage was due to shoplifting and 26.4 per cent due to employee theft. The highest rate of shrinkage was seen in apparels.

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Russia: 1.61%

Russia is next with a shrinkage rate of 1.61 per cent of total retail sales.

Globally, retail theft was estimated at Rs 498,000 crore ($107.3 billion) in 2010. This translated into just 1.36 per cent of total retail sales between July, 2009, and June, 2010, compared to 1.43 per cent in the year-ago period.

As per the study, the lowest rate of shrinkage was witnessed in Taiwan, at 0.87 per cent of retail sales, whereas the average rate in the Asia-Pacific region was 1.16 per cent.

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Image: Russia.
Photographs: Reuters
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Mexico: 1.61%

Next in line, Mexico, too has a shrinkage rate of 1.61 per cent of total retail sales.

Infant formula and alcohol were the products most stolen from grocery stores, while fashion clothing, accessories, health and beauty items were among the most shoplifted items in the Asia-Pacific.

The study said increased loss prevention spending by retailers globally contributed to lower shrinkage rates between July, 2009, and June, 2010.

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Image: Mexico.
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Thailand: 1.57%

Thailand sees a shrinkage rate of 1.57 per cent of total retail sales.

Retailers around the world increased spending on loss prevention and security by 9.3 per cent to Rs 124,400 crore ($26.8 billion) in 2010, compared to the previous year.

"Even with the shrinkage decrease, retail crime cost the average family in 42 countries and regions surveyed an extra Rs 8,632 ($186) on their shopping bill," Centre for Retail Research Director Joshua Bamfield, who authored the study, said in a statement.

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Image: Thailand.
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Malaysia: 1.53%%

Malaysia, at 1.53 per cent shrinkage of total retail sales, too has a lot of thefts and shoplifting incidents.

The study covers key trends in retail shrinkage and crime in 42 countries and regions across the world, including the United States, China, India, Europe, Japan and Australia. Russia is included for the first time this year.

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Turkey: 1.52%

Turkish retailers see a shrinkage rate of 1.52 per cent of total retail sales.

With most global markets beginning to see renewed economic growth, retailers are enjoying some relief from escalating shrink rates.

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Image: Th eBlue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
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The United States: 1.50%

America, one of the richest nations on earth, too has a lot of shoplifters, with a shrinkage rate of 1.50 per cent of total retail sales.

Global shrink retreated 5.6 per cent during the most recent 12-month period, according to the fourth annual Global Retail Theft Barometer, reversing last year's spike in shrink rates in every geographic market.

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Argentina: 1.48%

With a shrinkage rate of 1.48 per cent of total retail sales, Argentina follows the US.

The improving economic picture and increased investment in LP and security measures have combined to tamp down retail theft. But while progress clearly is being made, retailers and their trading partners still face important shrink-related challenges to their financial performance.

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Canada: 1.42%

Canadian retailers suffer from a shrinkage rate of 1.42 per cent of total retail sales.

This year's report suggests important strategies and tactics for retailers to consider in addressing the still-imposing problem of shrink.

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Czech Republic: 1.40%

With a shrinkage rate of 1.40 per cent of total retail sales, the Czech Republic is the next in line.

A year ago, there was little doubt that the global economic recession was a major contributor to a worldwide spike in shrink rates. After several years where shrink rates hovered at consistent levels, shrink rates jumped almost in lockstep with deteriorating retail sales.

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Australia: 1.39%

Australia with a 1.39 per cent shrinkage of retail sales too sees numerous shoplifting cases.

Today, the correlation between macroeconomic trends and retail shrink is actually good news: As economies have improved around the world some more than others, to be sure -- shrink levels have been consistently reduced, according to the Centre for Retail Research's annual Global Retail Theft Barometer.

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Hungary: 1.38%

Hungary has a shrinkage rate of 1.38 per cent of retail sales..

In this year's survey, respondents from 1,103 retailers throughout North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa/Middle East provided in-depth information about all aspects of their stores' shrink.

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Image: Hungary
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Finland: 1.28%

Finland retailers too suffer 1.28 per cent shrinkage of sales due to shoplifting.

Retailers in 42 different countries were represented, including, for the first time, Russia.

The survey asked retailers to provide information pertaining to shrink for the time period from July 2009 through June 2010, which is widely believed to be a timeframe where many regional economies began to stabilize and resume growth after the economic near-collapse starting in 2008.

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Image: Finland.
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Norway: 1.26%

Norway is next with a shrinkage rate of 1.26 per cent of total retail sales.

On average, shoplifters steal $196 worth of goods per incident, while employees steal an average of $1,944 -- virtually 10 times higher.

Of course, there is a much higher incidence of shoplifters globally than employee thieves, so shoplifters still make up the single-largest portion of theft globally.

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Image: Norway.
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Portugal: 1.24%

Next in line, Portugal, too has a shrinkage rate of 1.24 per cent of total retail sales.

However, employee thieves are actually a bigger contributor to the overall theft value in North America, according to the study: employees in North American retailers make up 28 per cent of total thieves apprehended, compared with just 4 per cent of those apprehended in Europe.

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Image: Portugal.
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The Netherlands: 1.22%

The Netherlands sees a shrinkage rate of 1.22 per cent of total retail sales.

Retailers in the hardware/DIY (do-it-yourself) market reported the highest shrink rates: 1.81 per cent of category sales. This segment supplanted last year's highest-shrink segment, apparel, which was second this year at 1.72 per cent, followed by pharmacy and cosmetics at 1.70 per cent.

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Image: The Netherlands.
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Denmark: 1.21%

Denmark, at 1.21 per cent shrinkage of total retail sales, too has a lot of thefts and shoplifting incidents.

But there's a more important story for retailers, embedded under these high-level numbers for each industry.

In key markets such as apparel, food and health/beauty/pharmacy, there are a number of high-theft product lines that experience anywhere from two to four times the shrink rates for their overall markets.

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Singapore: 1.17%

Retailers in Singapore see a shrinkage rate of 1.17 per cent of total retail sales. Singapore has one of the lowest rates of shoplifting cases.

For instance, take apparel, where the overall industry shrink rate was 1.72 per cent in this year's GRTB. However, accessories experienced a 3.84 per cent shrink rate globally, spiking to almost 5 per cent in North America and more than 4 per cent in Europe.

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Germany: 1.12%

Germany too has few shoplifters, with a shrinkage rate of 1.12 per cent of total retail sales.

Other apparel product categories where shrink was much higher than the industry average included children's wear, fashion/tailored clothing, outerwear, and tops/sweaters.

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China: 1.04%

With a shrinkage rate of just 1.04 per cent of total retail sales, China has amongst the lowest rates of shoplifting and theft cases.

A similar story occurred in the food vertical market, where the category global shrink rate in supermarkets and large grocery stores was 1.22 per cent. But in the fresh meat sub-category, shrink was 2.86 per cent globally, 5.2 per cent in Latin America and 4.1 per cent in North America.

Also experiencing higher-than-average shrink rates were luxury cooked meat, cheese, alcohol, candy, infant formula and high-quality seafood.

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Switzerland: 1.00%

The Swiss are amongst the most honest, as the retailers there suffer a shrinkage rate of only 1.00 per cent of total retail sales.

Retailers' responses yielded a wide and deep array of statistics. Some of the key issues highlighted by the survey's data are:

Worldwide shrink was $107.3 billion, a decline of 5.6 per cent. This represented 1.36 per cent of retail sales, down from 1.43 per cent a year ago.

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Image: Switzerland.
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Japan: 1.00%

The Japanese are honest. With a shrinkage rate of only 1.00 per cent of total retail sales, Japan is shoulder to shoulder with Switzerland in this regard.

Shrink fell in North America by 7 per cent, more than in any other region surveyed. By contrast, shrink rose nearly 9 per cent in North America in last year's report.

Hardware and DIY (do-it-yourself) supplanted apparel as the industry with the highest shrink rates, although apparel and pharmacy/cosmetics followed closely behind.

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Image: Japan.
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Austria: 0.97%

Austria with a 0.97 per cent shrinkage of retail sales sees amongst the least cases of shoplifting in the world.

Shoplifting -- already the number-one cause of shrink globally for retailers -- appears to be generating even more concern among retailers.

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Hong Kong: 0.91%

Hong Kong, among the nations surveyed, has the second least amount of shoplifting incidents with a shrinkage rate of only 0.91 per cent of retail sales..

For the first time in three years, retailers increased their spending on loss prevention and security; LP hardware and systems was the category with the highest percentage of year-over-year percentage increases.

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Taiwan: 0.87%

By far the most honest shoppers in the world are in Taiwan. The nation has just 0.87 per cent shrinkage of sales due to shoplifting.

Highest shrink was found in:

  • Apparel high-risk product lines like accessories and children's wear;
  • Grocery high-risk product lines like fresh meat and luxury cooked meat;
  • Health and Beauty high-risk product lines like shaving products and perfumes/fragrances;
  • Global cost of shrink: $186 per family.


Image: Taiwan.
Photographs: Reuters
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