UK shops stand to lose almost £1bn to shoplifters, light-fingered employees and supply chain fraud this festive season, new figures from the Centre for Retail Research suggest (CRR).

The loss, equivalent to £38.09 per household, is up 3.4% compared to 2011, an increase of £33m.

Shoplifting is expected to account for the largest slice of the retail crime pie with £522.5m of stock expected to be stolen by customers, closely followed by employee theft which is expected to hit £430.6m.

Despite being one of Europe’s smaller economies, Ireland is expected to suffer the most from Christmas crime, with total losses forecast to rise by 4.7% compared to last year’s €79.8 million

Alcohol is one of the most commonly stolen products, along with food, Christmas decorations, chocolates and confectionery.

“The Christmas season is a particularly attractive time for criminals,” report author and CRR director professor Joshua Bamfield said. “Thieves take advantage of busy stores to steal high value, high demand goods. As a result, retailers face a big threat from professional and semi-professional thieves, many of whom steal goods with the intention of re-selling them.”

Police forces across the country are vowing to support retailers over the coming weeks with additional patrols and more plain-clothed officers on duty.