Retail Shrink

Retail shrink is a serious problem both here in the United States and globally. Because we work with a lot of retailers to secure and monitor their inventory and working spaces, we thought we would take a look at the worldwide numbers.

According to the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer, shrinkage cost the world $112,000,000,000 in 2012. Yes, that is nine zeros.

What is Retail Shrink?

Retail shrink is theft, whether it be through shoplifting, organized crime, employee theft, or supplier fraud, from retail stores such as big box clothing stores, shops in the mall, etc. It occurs in all markets and is committed by all classes of citizens.

The Global Picture

The following data is based on 160,000 stores in 16 countries. These stores account for $1.5 Trillion dollars in sales during 2012. Keep in mind that the following shrink rates are percentages of that country’s retail sales.

2012 Global Retail Shrink

Highest retail shrink rates

Mexico and Brazil came out on top with the largest percentage of retail shrink, 1.6%. China and the United States were a close second, at 1.5%.


Australia took home the award for lowest retail shrink rate, losing only 1%. Japan did well also, at 1.1%.

What do these thieves typically steal?

Items stolen vary between different demographics, but in general thieves go after small, higher value items that are easily concealable. That includes jewelry and accessories, clothing, electronics such as iPhones and iPads, and healthcare products such as over-the counter medicine and baby formula.

How Do Retailers Combat Shrink?

Deterrence is the name of the game in most cases. Large business surveillance systems, ID tags on individual products, and security guards all play a big roll in deterring criminals from performing these acts. Big box retailers typically have trained LP (loss prevention) personnel on-property that watch security camera feeds for malicious behavior and neutralize suspicious activity.

When deterrence doesn’t work, which is often the case, stores turn to the police and rely on security camera footage to identify and help track thieves. Many times, the camera footage is sub-par or the equipment wasn’t actually working properly and is of no use. That is why it is important to have a high quality CCTV system that is maintained properly. The cost is typically much lower in the end.

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