NEW YORK — Disaffected employees were the main cause of unexplained inventory loss, or shrinkage, which carved a $31.3 billion chunk out of merchandise stocks in 2001, according to the University of Florida’s latest National Retail Security Survey. That’s 1.7 percent of the $1.845 trillion in sales recorded that year, or the equivalent of the entire gross domestic product of Vietnam.

While the level of shrinkage has remained fairly constant over the last decade, it was actually lower in 2001 (1.7 percent) than it was in 1991 (1.79 percent),the first year the survey was published.

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