Retail profits can be increased in two ways. Either the sales can be increased, thereby increasing the profits, or the amount of losses or expenses can be restricted, which would also show higher profits. Retail shrinkage is a crucial area of concern for any retailer who wants to focus on the latter. Retail shrinkage arises when there is a variation in the value of stock as per the books and the actual stock available in the shop. The causes of retail shrinkage are mainly employee theft, shoplifting, administrative errors and vendor fraud.


Also known as commercial burglary, shoplifting indicates theft of goods from a retail store. One of the most common crimes, it is expressed as five-finger discount in Australia and US, and jacking, chaving, and nicking in UK. A market research survey on retail crime and loss indicates that possibilities exist, that one out of twelve customers; be a shoplifter. Professional shoplifters are known as boosters.

There is no typical profile for a shoplifter, making the spotting; complex. Shoplifters may be of any age, race, and background. While some signs like wearing heavy clothing even during warm weather, taking short; unnatural steps, and spending more time in watching the cashier or sales clerk may signal a red flag for retailers, there are no key aspects to identify them; point blank.

A hobby or a psychological disorder?

It is generally assumed that shoplifters have some mental disorder or they are in poverty, and need these things for their survival. On the contrary, a few people have kleptomania, and many others indulging in shoplifting would only be having adequate money to pay their bills. Most of the people involved in the activity are youngsters, and do it to get a rush. Some do it to get the attention of their friends. Few others do it, as a way to get back to a store, they have a grudge.

Vertical Market Trends:

A survey conducted by global retail theft barometer covering 43 countries, and 1,187 retailers state that the cost of shrinkage during 2011 accounted to 6.6%; globally. Major items of shoplifting include apparels, grocery and jewellery. The study reveals India, Russia, and Morocco with highest risk rates, and identifies Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as countries with low risk of shoplifters.