US retailers to lose $8.9B in shoplifting over holiday season

Alcohol listed as most stolen item in stores

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A study released by the Center for Retail Research estimates that U.S. retailers will lose $8.9 billion over the holiday season due to shoplifting, employee theft and vendor and distribution losses.

Who pays for that? Shoppers -- about $98 additional on each shopping tab.

The report estimates retailers will see the biggest loss from employee theft -- about $4.7 billion. General shoplifting will take around $3.8 billion worth of goods, and companies are estimated to see about $400 million in losses from vendors and distributors.

The number compared with last year's shoplifting estimate is up by 4 percent.

So why does it cost shoppers when people steal?

"People pay more simply because when you steal, you're taking away from the profits of the store, which means they've got to now replace that one item that you stole," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said. "They already paid for it once. Now they're paying for it twice."

The newly released information about shoplifting includes the top 10 most stolen items (see at bottom of story).

The No. 1 item people steal when they are shoplifting? Alcohol.

Liquor store owner John Stephens says about 10 to 15 percent of his store's sales are stolen each year.

"Not only do you lose the profit, you lose the money you put into it and it effects every part of your business," Stephens said.

Stephens has a monitor at the front of his store, cameras everywhere customers look, and two people on staff during peak hours who are very involved with customers.

"I think we've discouraged them by being in their face, by asking, 'Can we help you?' and being right next to them," Stephens said.

He said he sees suspicious behavior a couple times a week and that they come in the form of all walks of life.

"There is no demographics of who's going to steal from you," Stephens said.

He said the most common item stolen from his store is vodka.

"It's just opportunity," Stephens said. "They don't intend to do it. It's just, 'Nobody's watching me. I can do this.'"

The ninth most popular item stolen? Jewelry.

Miriam's Jewelry Store was broken into last February. Three men stole about $25,000 worth of jewelry. Since then, the store has tightened security, including having a locked-door system.

"We have to actually let you in and let you out," store owner Miriam Alexander said.

The store also upgraded its camera system, has a German Shepherd dog to keep guard, and has a security guard on its premises at all times. It also hired a Jacksonville Sheriff's officer to come in two weeks before Christmas to act as security.

"I think we're doing everything we can to keep anything from happening to us again," Alexander said.

Top 10 most stolen items:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Women's clothing and fashion accessories
  3. Toys
  4. Perfume and health and beauty gift packs
  5. Electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets
  6. DVD gift sets and game consoles
  7. Food and Christmas decorations
  8. Electrical goods such as hardware/DIY products
  9. Watches and jewelry
  10. Chocolates and confectionery

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