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The Warsaw Voice » Business » February 4, 2010
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Shoplifting Up Amid Crisis
February 4, 2010 By A.R.    
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Polish stores lost 1.24 billion euros as a result of theft last year, more than any other country in the region, but losses as a proportion of retail chain sales were lower.

According to the Third Global Retail Theft Barometer, published in October, retail chains from 41 countries suffered losses of about 84.1 billion euros ($114.8 billion) last year as a result of shoplifting and in-house errors. That is 5.9 percent more than the year before. These losses accounted for 1.43 percent of sales.

The global recession had a major impact on increased theft. In the wake of the crisis, companies reduced spending on security systems by 700 million euros ($900 million), a drop of 11.4 percent compared to the previous year, the report said.

Because of the losses of retail chains (the value of stolen goods and spending on security), every household around the world had to pay 152 euros ($208.39) extra for their shopping during the year as an extra "tax." The most popular items stolen were game consoles, brand-name accessories and clothing, cosmetics and watches.

The report shows that the global crisis hit Central Europe hard, as seen also in the significant impact of thefts and errors on the results of retail chains in the region. Compared to other countries in the region, Poland's situation is unusually stable.

The amount of losses as a proportion of sales grew by 4.4 percent, compared to 5.1 percent in Hungary, 6.5 percent in the Czech Republic, 6.7 percent in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and a record 9.8 percent in Slovakia.

Although, as in previous years, Polish stores lost the most in the region, 1.24 billion euros, the losses as a proportion of retail chain sales (1.42 percent) are lower than in other countries of the region, where they range from 1.44 to 1.47 percent. Customers of Polish stores appear more honest compared to the rest of Europe.

In Poland, 39.8 percent of losses are caused by shoplifting, the lowest result on the continent. Shoplifting is the biggest problem in Austria, where it accounts for as much as 56.2 percent of all losses.

On the other hand, unintentional errors that also contribute to retail chains' reduced sales occur often in Poland. In Poland and the Czech Republic, they account for 18.7 percent of all losses. Dishonest employees in Poland are responsible for 35.6 percent of losses, and greedy suppliers and middlemen for 5.9 percent.

The Global Retail Theft Barometer was drawn up by Britain's Centre for Retail Research and commissioned by Checkpoint Systems, Inc., an international producer and supplier of security, identification and product presentation systems for retail trade. The survey investigated companies from 41 countries on five continents, with responses provided by 1,069 retail chains whose total sales were $822.8 billion. The report is the world's biggest study on losses in the retail trade.
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