Workers in the retail and wholesale industries continue to suffer from the highest levels of crime out of all key business sectors, with retailers who experience crime being targeted more often than in previous years, new Home Office data shows.


The crime rate in the retail and wholesale sector has risen every year since 2015, from 12,400 incidents per 1,000 premises to 27,400 incidents in 2018, the latest Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) reveals.

The number of assaults and threats has also continued to rise year on year, up to 1,600 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2018, a marginal increase on 2017 but significantly up from 500 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2016. 

Theft accounted for 82% of all incidents reported in 2018 and almost three-quarters (71%) of all incidents of theft was theft by customers, with 19,300 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2018.

Theft of food or groceries accounted for over a quarter of stolen items in 2018.

The repeat victimisation rate for theft specifically has almost doubled in recent years, from 49 incidents per victim in 2012 to 92 incidents per victim in 2018.

The overall rate of repeat victimisation has also risen from 32 incidents per premises in 2012 to 69 per premises in the 2018 survey.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said the survey highlighted the need for a more targeted approach to dealing with repeat offenders.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “These findings show that businesses are being repeatedly targeted by criminals that are not only committing thefts, but are also being abusive and violent towards retailers and their staff.

“We need targeted action to deal with repeat offenders who are currently being all but ignored by the justice system.

 “The increase in the number of assaults and threats is especially concerning, as no one should have to face violence or abuse in their work but it is being seen as just part of the job for many in the sector.

“We continue to urge retailers and their staff to report every incident when it occurs to ensure that the police are aware of the full extent of the problem.”

Figures from the 2019 ACS Crime Report show that retailers believe 79% of crimes are committed by repeat offenders, with around half of those offenders being motivated by a drug or alcohol addiction.