By  on November 12, 2009

Worldwide retail losses from shoplifting, employee theft, organized crime and administrative errors jumped 5.9 percent to $114.8 billion for the year ended June 30, according to a new survey.

The losses, known as shrink, represented 1.43 percent of sales of the 1,069 retailers that were surveyed in 41 countries. Total shrink in the U.S. rose to $45.99 billion, or 1.6 percent of sales, up from 1.48 percent a year earlier.

Apparel retailers experienced the highest rate of theft — 1.84 percent of sales — of the categories tracked in the Centre for Retail Research’s third annual Global Retail Theft Barometer. The survey was sponsored by Checkpoint Systems Inc., a shrink management firm.

“Retailers attribute one-third of the increase in shoplifting to the economic recession,” wrote Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research.

He pointed out that “many retailers have noted a change in the type of offender — there are many more ‘amateurs’ and more ‘professional thieves.’”

There was also a change in the types of product stolen, such as an increase in theft of household goods for personal use.

Customer theft made up 42.5 percent of the losses, while employees were estimated to be responsible for 35.5 percent of the theft. Internal errors and losses due to supplier fraud constituted the remainder.

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