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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Retail shrinkage reduces as prevention technology improves.

19 December, 2007
The Christmas season is boom time for the retail industry but it is also the season for increased theft by customers and increased levels of employee fraud but technological developments are keeping the problem within manageable boundaries.
Shop lifting used to be reasonably easy and the smaller the shop, the easier it was. With theft prevention measures amounting to a few well placed mirrors and some tagging for higher value items, thieves could easily get away with millions of pounds worth of stock. Even as recently as last year, retail shrinkage as it is politely referred to amounted to billions of pounds for UK shops.

The technology has improved but the thieves have become more sophisticated and it isn't only customers walking off with the stock, it is also dishonest employees either aiding and abetting for profit or walking off with the cash themselves.

Dome cameras, RFID, electronic article surveillance and transactional analysis have all helped to reduce the problem and in combination, they amount to formidable opposition for criminals. With the improvements in technology also came a reduction in cost so now hidden cameras and other surveillance techniques are achievable for smaller retailers who once couldn't afford such deterrants.

However, the most significant advances in reducing internal crime is transactional analysis. With credit card transactions, loyalty card use and CCTV till surveillance linked to EPOS transactions, shops which have deployed this technology have reduced till skimming incidents to almost nothing.

Regardless of this, the vast majority of shop thefts go undetected and so there's still a long way to go but at least this season there will be fewer losses than before.
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