New figures from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have revealed record levels of shop theft being committed against convenience retailers over the last year.
ACS’ Voice of Local Shops survey of over 1200 independent retailers has shown that the ‘theft index’ (the net percentage of retailers saying that theft has increased in their business) has reached a record level of +26, compared to a previous high of +25 in May 2012. 63% of independent retailers reported that theft in their businesses had either increased (35%) or stayed the same (28%) over the last year, with just 9% reporting a decrease in levels of shop theft.
The ACS Voice of Local Shops Survey has been tracking levels of shop theft since the start of 2012. The theft index had been reasonably steady from 2016 through to early 2021, but has since gradually risen to now record highs.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are extremely concerned about the continued increase in theft levels in local shops. Retailers tell us that the vast majority of incidents are committed by repeat offenders, usually well known in the area, that are stealing high value items like meat, coffee, alcohol and household/beauty products to then sell on, either as part of an organised crime group or to fund a substance addiction.
“Theft is not a victimless crime, it takes an enormous financial and personal toll on the retailers that are trying to run a business in their communities. Theft is also the biggest single trigger for abuse of colleagues and violent incidents in stores.
“We need targeted action to stop the repeat offenders that are stealing on a regular basis without any concern about being apprehended by the police.”
Across the UK, London retailers are the worst affected, with 48% of retailers surveyed saying that theft has increased over the last year. This compares to 28% of retailers in the North East who reported an increase in theft, the lowest of any UK region.
Figures from the ACS 2022 Crime Report show that convenience stores spent over £246m in the previous year on crime prevention measures like CCTV, security staff and alarm systems.