This brought a response from John Middleton, founder of ShopEase EPoS Systems. He says: “Audited accounts (and their stocktakes) are compulsory under the law for limited companies. For sole traders, partnerships, et al – then stocktaking can be ‘as and when’ – although, of course, today’s retailer will be relying on his epos system to keep him informed of his current stockholding.

“This statement has its caveats – our retailer will have had to have been meticulous in receiving stock quantities and making adjustments for the blight of shoplifting. Indeed, if our retailer can demonstrate that accurate and regular checks have been conducted to evaluate the degree of stock losses, then the tax man will (more often than not) allow an adjustment to the purchase ledger to reflect these losses.”

John adds: “I still find it amazing (after some 25 years plus in the trade) that so many retailers take an ostrich’s viewpoint and have no idea how bad their pilfering problems are. How many times do I hear ‘It’s a well-to-do area here – our clients wouldn’t dream of pinching anything’ or ‘This is just a small village – I know nearly all my clients – they wouldn’t steal from me’, and the best of the lot ‘We have security cameras covering every nook and cranny – it’s impossible to shoplift’?”

His advice is to check an area (or department) randomly and regularly and feed the info back to your epos system.

And he sends a footnote saying that there have been spates of thieves visiting their local supermarket and legitimately purchasing branded products – obtaining a receipt – then pinching the exact same items from their local store.

“If challenged, they produce said receipt. Talk about a two for one offer!”