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These four Aussie retailers are the biggest victims of theft

Two female friends shoplifting. Source: Getty
Two female friends shoplifting. Source: Getty

Whether it be a bottle of water from local grocers, or a pair of earrings from a jewellery shop - most stores would have had the misfortune of having their goods stolen.

In fact, last year’s statistics from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention revealed that 1 in every 11 people have shoplifted, and are more likely to steal or attempt to steal something from a retail store than anywhere else.


The Australian Retailers Association estimated all forms of shoplifting across the retail sector costs retailers $9.5 billion per year.

But it’s not just costing businesses.

The Global Retail Theft Barometer reported that Australian households end up spending an extra $424 per year to make up for those losses.

Off the back of supermarket giant, Woolworths, introducing scales into bagging areas to identify incorrectly scanned items by weight, Yahoo Finance has taken a look at retailers that lose the most cash to thieves.

Here are some of the biggest victims of shrinkage:


Shrinkage: $1 billion

The Global Theft Barometer surveyed over 2000 people aged over 18 about their shopping habits and the use of self-service checkouts.

The results?

Just under 20 per cent admitted stealing from self-service checkouts, and over half of those said it all began when items failed to scan.

Shoppers said they stole, on average, $25 worth of goods every month from self-scanners.

While Woolworths doesn’t release its figures for self-service theft, the ARA Retail Institute says the rule of thumb is that it generally costs retailers between one and three per cent of gross profit.

Woolworths reported its sales totalled $36.4 billion, which means theft could account for between $364 million and $1 billion.


Shrinkage: $891 million

Going by the ARA Retail Institute’s method, three per cent of Coles’ $29.7 billion revenue equates to around $891 million lost in theft.

The best possible case, one per cent of revenue, is still costing Coles $297 million.

In response to millions in stolen goods, Coles installed tablet-sized cameras on top of self-service monitors to keep an eye on shoppers failing to scan items.

On top of this, a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo Finance earlier this year that undercover security officers were being deployed in supermarkets nationally to act as self-service watch-dogs.


Shrinkage: $30 million per year

Last year, Myer posted a shocking $476 million loss, which was a -858 per cent change on the same period in 2017.

It reported that shoplifting rose by 33 percent, which accounted for a whopping $30 million in revenue.

Myer estimated around 85 per cent of shrinkage was due to staff or customer theft, and 15 per cent was due to administrative and supply-chain errors.

In an effort to tighten its grip on shoplifters, the retail giant installed radio frequency identification “smart” tags in its $500 million private-label brands.

David Jones

Shrinkage: $22 million

David Jones’ South African parent company, Woolworths, took a $713 million write-down in its value last year, with its sales for the six months to December 2018 down 3.3 per cent.

The retailer’s revenue clocked in at $2.2 billion in 2016, bringing its shrinkage to anywhere between $22 million and $66 million.


Shrinkage: $3 billion

Over in the US, shrinkage is just as big a problem, if not bigger, than here in Australia.

Forbes reported shrinkage costs the US retail industry $46.8 billion, or around 1.33 per cent of revenue on average.

Last year, Forbes also reported that American retail monster, Wal-Mart, loses around $4.3 billion per year from theft, or one per cent of its $430 billion revenue.

Of that amount, 38 per cent (or $1.6 billion) is caused by shoplifting, 35 per cent (or $1.5 billion) is caused by employee theft, and the rest reflects damaged goods and admin errors.

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