For small retailers, excessive stock shrinkage as a result of theft can force owners to close their doors for good. For larger retailers, the loss of earnings can result in stores closing and employees losing their jobs, if sales figures do not meet the required levels. Shoplifting and employee theft in summary can cripple a business no matter the size.

The good news is there are several easy to adopt tactics and procedures can be adopted to help combat the dire impacts of stock shrinkage due to theft of one sort or the other.

Community Effort

While the shocking shoplifting statistics were taken from US sources, they are mirrored across the globe. One of the ways the problem can be brought to the fore and combatted is through retailers forming organizations or joining existing Chambers of Commerce, to help spread information regarding incidents. This helps an entire area generate a picture of the problem.

Further, local police departments can be brought in to help train owners and staff, and security companies can provide expert evaluations.

Dire Statistics


In the US in 2020, a massive spike in shoplifting was seen mainly driven by desperation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some areas saw an increase of 60% in reported stock theft cases, while another study reported that 88% of respondents had experienced a shoplifting incident with 29% experiencing an incident weekly, and 14% saying the issue was experienced daily. The average loss per incident was estimated at 318 USD. In total stock, shrinkage cost the US retail industry 46.8 billion USD in 2019.

Zero-Tolerance Policy

It is also important that retailers draft a store policy regarding shoplifting and employee theft that adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards the problem. The policy will help clear up any future misunderstandings as staff will know where they stand and what is expected of them. The zero-tolerance aspect will help act as a deterrent.

This can be further supplemented with staff training to further help prevent incidents from impacting the bottom line.

Low-Tech Tactics

Not all tactics involve upgrading security systems to the latest technology, which certainly does help but needs to be done effectively. Several low-tech options can further bolster a store’s security posture, first of which is to make sure store shelves and displays are kept neat and tidy so that any empty space may act as a visual cue that something is wrong.

There are retail shelving services you can use to customize your shelving so it’s not only efficient but based on your store’s layout and can be seen easily. The design of your shelving can be utilized more effectively with a few tweaks. Many stores do this and integrate video cameras in high theft areas like the cosmetics aisle.

Secondly, shoplifters should not be stereotyped, and cases prove they come from all races, and financial backgrounds with some wealthy individuals stealing for psychological reasons.

It is more important to familiarize yourself with common theft tactics involving certain items of clothing, label switching, or misdirecting staff.

Improved Security Systems


Technology has come on in leaps and bounds often offering the humble retailer access to security technology not possible years prior.

However, when looking to upgrade security systems it is important to consult with experts and local law enforcement to see what will work best. This will also help with where to place cameras for example to make identification of perpetrators easier, or where blind spots can be corrected with mirrors rather than expensive equipment. This also has the benefit of keeping costs down when paying for a new high-tech system.

Retail stores in the apparel industry have been using clothing security tags for decades–technology advances in recent years have made significant gains in the fight again would-be thieves.  In the liquor industry security liquor caps protect high-value liquor bottles and are a significant deterrent against shoplifters.


As the article illustrates there are several paths to follow when looking to prevent shoplifting and employee theft from impacting store sales and ever-increasing insurance costs. By adopting a holistic approach stores can not only still provide a friendly shopping environment but one where theft is kept to an absolute minimum.