Rise in shoplifting affects one in two small firms

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 7 May 2024

A man is stealing items from an electrical retailers

The British Independent Retailers Association is urging authorities to take more action on retail crime as a new survey finds that half of small business owners say that shoplifting is a big problem.

A survey by insurer Simply Business has found that shoplifting is a "huge concern" for small business owners, with half (50%) reporting it as a problem. It comes as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that shoplifting increased by 37% last year.

The findings reveal that 57% of respondents have lost over £250 to shoplifting in the past year; 16% say they have lost between £1,001-£5,000. As a result, many small businesses have been forced to implement measures to prevent shoplifting, including:

  • Enhanced surveillance with CCTV cameras (34%);
  • Increased staff presence and customer engagement (30%);
  • Joining forces with other local shops to spot and report crime (20%).

"We know that incidences of shoplifting have increased by 37% in the past year, and we can't understate the impact this has on small businesses. Shoplifting not only drains the financial resources of SMEs but also undermines their sense of security and stability. As vital contributors to our local communities, it's crucial that we stand united in support of small businesses. SMEs are the backbone of our economy, deserving our unwavering support now more than ever." Bea Montoya, UK coo, Simply Business.

Action needed on retail crime

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) says more needs to be done to protect shop owners, workers and shoppers. The association, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses across the UK, said the ONS figures show how serious the situation has become.

"The latest ONS crime figures paint a troubling picture for independent retailers and businesses across the UK. The 37% increase in shoplifting highlights the significant challenges faced by our sector. Retail crime not only inflicts financial losses but also poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being of shop staff and customers." John Halliday, marketing director, Bira.

A recent survey by Bira has further exposed the harsh realities endured by those working in retail. The survey shows that 35% of individuals have experienced verbal abuse within their shops; incidents of physical abuse are also alarmingly high and 70% of those physically assaulted have opted not to report the incidents to the police.

Bira is urging authorities to take immediate and decisive action to combat retail crime, including increased police presence in retail areas, improved reporting mechanisms and enhanced support for victims.

"It's imperative that urgent action is taken to address this concerning trend and ensure the security of both businesses and their employees and customers," said Bira's John Halliday. "Bira has been trying to tackle this issue for a long time and will continue to work with the Home Office and police forces to better protect businesses, their owners and people who work in a shop."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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