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.

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