Tags: Fisher | retail | theft | shoplift

Fortune's Fisher: US Retail Workers Are the Most Thievish in the World

By    |   Tuesday, 27 January 2015 02:56 PM

U.S. retail workers are second to no one when it comes to employee theft — they lead the world in that dubious distinction.

Inventory shrinkage — consisting of missing goods from shoplifting and other causes — costs U.S. retailers about $42 billion annually, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, an annual industry study. That amounts to $403 annually per U.S. household.

"Light-fingered employees cost American stores (and consumers) more than shoplifters do," declared Fortune columnist Ann Fisher.

Worldwide, it is estimated worker theft adds up to about 28 percent of inventory losses, while shoplifters account for a considerably higher 39 percent. But in the U.S., the Global Retail Theft Barometer found employee theft accounts for 43 percent of lost revenue — about $18 billion in total, or $2.3 billion more than the cost of shoplifters.

"Some stores get ripped off more than others. Discounters, for example, experience higher rates of employee theft than home improvement stores or supermarkets do. Moreover, rather than simply walk off with merchandise or pocket cash, most workers who steal do so in subtler ways," said Fisher.

Ernie Deyle, a retail loss-prevention expert at data analytics firm Sysrepublic, said retail employee theft usually happens at the checkout, as workers benefit themselves or someone else when they enter refunds, discounts or voided transactions into a cash register, or modify prices or abuse coupons.

"Internationally, there's more of an unwritten code that says it's not honorable to do something dishonest toward an employer," Deyle told Fisher. "Here, it's a different mindset. There's so much turnover in retailing, and very little loyalty."

A University of Cincinnati survey of U.S. small businesses found 64 percent of them have experienced employee theft, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The respondents said 40 percent of their employee thefts were in the form of cash, totaling an average of about $20,000 over time. However, only 16 percent of the small businesses reported the thefts to authorities.

"Experts say that entrepreneurs who have been hit by employee theft should tread carefully. It's easy to make missteps, which could lead to more disruptions in the workplace and legal action from the accused employee," The Journal noted.

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U.S. retail workers are second to no one when it comes to employee theft — they lead the world in that dubious distinction.
Fisher, retail, theft, shoplift
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 02:56 PM
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