Shrinkage has multiple meanings, depending on the context Shrinkage can be defined as an Inventory recorded on a company's books but not on hand, due to theft, loss or accounting error
In retailing, shrinkage (sometimes truncated to shrink) is the loss rate of products between point of manufacture and point of sale. Sometimes shrinkage may be as high as 15% to 20% of total volume, having a major negative impact on profits. The average shrink percentage in the retail industry is about 2% of sales. Shrinkage is often considered a cost of doing business in retail
Shrinkage is for a large part due to theft or some other crime, and the prevention of this type of shrinkage is one reason for security guards and cameras. Also, some shrinkage is due to damage in transit, shipping errors, or misplaced goods
The four major sources of inventory shrinkage in the retail industry are:
The National Retail Security Survey is published annually as part of the Security Research Project at the University of Florida. The Security Research Project endeavors to study various elements of workplace related crime and deviance with a special emphasis on the retail industry
Retail Theft: What's the Harm?
Hollinger warns that it isn't just retailers who should be concerned about retail theft. Retail theft impacts everyone. Ultimately it's consumers that are hurt the most in the form of higher prices
"An average family of four will spend more than $440 this year in higher prices because of inventory theft," Hollinger said. "Thieves also generally target hot selling items, which means those must-have toys on your child's holiday wish list are less likely to be available on the store shelves"
The primary cause of retail shrinkage is employee-caused shrinkage, or ‘internal shrinkage’, which is any act of intentional or non-intentional deception performed internally by any employee of the company. From 1995-2002, retailers have seen this single most important category increase from 51-57 percent, as a percentage of the overall shrinkage
Internal shrinkage is further sub-categorized into cashier-caused shrinkage and general employee-caused shrinkage. General employee-caused shrinkage is any act of intentional or non-intentional deception performed internally by any employee (including management personnel) other than the cashiers, such as theft of merchandise, cash, supplies, pilferage, etc., and accounts for 39 percent of the overall employee-caused shrinkage
Employee Theft at Record Levels
The study, conducted by the University of Florida with a funding grant from ADT Security Services, Inc., a unit of Tyco Fire and Security Services, discovered that retail security managers attributed more than 48.5 percent of their losses to employee theft, up from 46 percent the prior year. Internal theft by employees cost retailers a record $15 billion
Shoplifting Also on the Rise
Shoplifting is the secondary cause of retail shrinkage, accounting for 20 percent of the overall shrinkage. For years, shoplifting has received the most attention, primarily with deployment of CCTV systems and EAS systems. This has resulted in evidenced reduction since 1997, when it was 26 percent of the overall shrinkage
Shoplifting was also on the rise last year with 31.7 percent of retail losses resulting from shoplifting, compared to 30.6 percent two years ago. Shoplifting was responsible for nearly $10 billion in losses last year. Employee theft and shoplifting combined continue to account for the largest source of property crime committed annually in the United States
Other Areas of Inventory Shrinkage
The remainder of the annual retail losses not due to employee theft and shoplifting are caused by paperwork errors and theft by vendors. Both administrative errors and vendor fraud have declined from two years ago
Stopping Retail Theft
"The holiday shopping season is really a make or break season for many retailers. It is also an extremely busy time, which leaves stores more vulnerable to theft," said Mike Snyder, president of ADT Security Services. "Many retailers are using security technologies such as anti-shoplifting, digital video and point-of-sale systems to help their staff zero in on theft problems"
Among the newest security technologies being used by retailers this year to control losses due to theft:
"Stores that utilize security technologies generally have lower overall inventory shrinkage than those retailers who do not," Snyder said. "Technology also allows employees to focus more time on assisting customers and less on patrolling the aisles"
Technology alone will not eliminate retail theft. Retailers who want to reduce losses should also strive to provide good customer service and promote high job satisfaction levels among its retail sales associates
Win the battle against shrinkage
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