US Retail Workers Stole $16.6B From Employers This Year

Theft by employees a bigger problem in the US than elsewhere
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2015 12:14 PM CST
US Retail Workers Stole $16.6B From Employers This Year
Stock photo   (Shutterstock)

The good news: Stores in the US lose less revenue to shoplifting than their counterparts in other countries. The bad news: Retail workers in the US are doing more of the stealing themselves … to the tune of $16.6 billion during the past year, according to Checkpoint Systems' Global Retail Theft Barometer released this month. In fact, retail shrinkage in the US resulting from employee theft rose 2% over last year to 45% of total shrinkage, MarketWatch reports. Simply defined, shrinkage is the difference between the revenue businesses should have brought in and the revenue they actually brought in. Meanwhile, shoplifting accounted for 36% of lost revenue in the US. Around the world, 39% of shrinkage is credited to employee theft, while 38% is attributed to shoplifting.

MarketWatch notes that the experts behind the Global Retail Theft Barometer aren’t sure just why the rate of employee theft is so much higher in the US. However, they do know that most of the theft happens at the point of sale, occurring "when an associate purposely manipulates a transaction for the benefit of themselves or someone else," study co-author Ernie Deyle tells MarketWatch. Department stores have the hardest time with employee theft: It accounts for 59% of total shrinkage, compared to 50% of total shrinkage at grocery stores and 44% of total shrinkage at clothing stores. Small, concealable items, such as booze, batteries, tablet computers, and fashion accessories, are most attractive to shoplifters and thieving employees, Apparel Magazine reports. (More shoplifting stories.)

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