‘Nearly Third’ of UK shoppers witness shoplifting in past year

Almost a third of UK shoppers have witnessed a shoplifting incident in the past 12 months, according to new research.

A study of 1,000 UK shoppers carried out by software developer Retail Insight found that 30 per cent had witnessed an instance of shoplifting during the past year, rising to 44 per cent of consumers in London.

Retail crime is a growing and costly challenge for UK retailers, with the ONS earlier this year reporting that more than 402,000 shoplifting offenses were recorded by police in 2023 - the greatest number since records began in 2002.

Retail Insight's figures come amidst a crackdown on retail crime, with the government announcing in April that assault of a retail worker will be made a specific criminal offence.

The move came after British retailers demanded the government tackle rising rates of retail crime.

“There’s little doubt that shoplifting poses a challenging and costly issue for retailers, many of whom are already giving away margin to keep the cost of everyday foods as low as possible for customers amidst cost-of-living pressures,” said Retail Insight chief executive Paul Boyle.

In April, Primark’s chief architect said that the retailer is exploring how it could use AI to address retail crime-related shrinkage.

Speaking on a panel at the Retail Technology Show in London, Paul Sims said that hike in shoplifting has been “problematic” for Primark because of its impact on both stock accuracy and the company’s bottom line.

The comments came after Primark rolled out a new anti-shoplifting measure in March which sees outgoing shopping bags sealed with a bright blue sticker.

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