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Crime is a £3.3bn headache for the UK retail sector

Crime is a £3.3bn headache for the UK retail sector
A shopper walks down the clothing aisle inside a J Sainsbury Plc supermarket in London, UK, on Tuesday, 5 July 2022.

UK retailers are struggling against a rise in organised crime, and they’re calling on police to step up their response as violence against staff reaches levels last seen during the Covid pandemic.

The total cost of crime to British retailers doubled last year to £3.3-billion (R79.5bn), according to a report by the British Retail Consortium released on Wednesday. Violence and abuse against UK shop workers rose by 50% to 1,300 incidents a day while instances of theft grew to more than 45,000 daily. 

British retailers including John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury’s last year jointly partnered with law enforcement in a bid to clamp down on the huge increase in shoplifting during the UK’s cost-of-living crisis. Each company is contributing £60,000 over two years to help police better target shoplifters. 

Read More: UK Retailers Demand Crackdown to Stop Wave of Shoplifting

Still, the broader police response to incidents was described as “poor” or “very poor” by most respondents to the BRC survey, and retailers spent £1.2-billion last year on measures such as CCTV, security staff and body cameras, up from £772-million the year before.

“Despite retailers investing huge sums in crime prevention, violence and abuse against retail workers is climbing,” BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said.

The retailers are focusing most closely on organised gangs, as higher living costs create a black market for expensive grocery items like alcohol and premium meats. Security tags have appeared on everyday items like baby formula and burgers in recent years.

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