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.