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By Katie Reilly
June 22, 2017

Loss of inventory from stores — due to causes including shoplifting and employee theft — cost the U.S. retail industry nearly $48.9 billion in 2016.

The National Retail Security Survey, conducted annually by the National Retail Federation trade group, found that the average inventory shrink rate increased to 1.44% in 2016. That figure — which measures missing inventory — includes items that go missing because of shoplifting, theft by employees, administrative errors, vendor fraud and other unknown loss.

Most missing inventory (36.5%) was attributed to shoplifting by outside customers, followed by employee theft (30%). Administrative errors accounted for 21.3% of inventory shrink, while vendor fraud accounted for 5.4%.

The survey — which included 83 retailers, some of which have multiple brands — found that the average cost per shoplifting incident doubled to $798.48. The average cost per employee theft incident was $1,922.80. The survey attributed that, in part, to a decrease in punitive action against shoplifters and employees.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

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