The cost of retail crime in the UK has increased by 15.6% over the past 12 months.

According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Retail Crime Survey 2012, the overall cost of crime to businesses hit £1.6bn in 2011/12. The total cost takes into account the total value of goods stolen, the damage done, and the amount retailers spend on crime prevention.

E-crime was the most common crime, making up 37% in terms of cost. Customer theft contributed to 28% of the cost of retail crime although made up 83% of all incidents reported. The BRC estimates that two million shoplifting offences take place each year, with an average of £109 worth of goods stolen in each incident.

The survey also showed that retailers spend an average of 7.1% more in 2011/12 on crime prevention measures than they did in the previous year.

The number of shoplifting instances being reported has also dramatically reduced in the past 12 months. The survey revealed that just 12% of customer thefts were reported in 2012, down from 47% in 2011.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson was concerned over the drop in the reporting of shoplifting. “The proportion of shoplifting incidents reported to police has plummeted to just one in eight – highlighting just how much there is to do to build retailers’ confidence in the way police forces respond,” she said. “Retailers deserve the support of law enforcers and politicians. Staff should have confidence to report crime and that action will be taken against those responsible for it.”

She also urged the new Police and Crime Commissioners to “put it high on their agendas”.