Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Retailers Balance Security, Customer Service

Store owners have lost $42.3B in stolen merchandise since the beginning of the year


Retailers are getting into the holiday season this week, following the early-morning openings and price slashes of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Traditionally, store owners would be focused on ringing up enough sales to turn a profit before the end of the year. But fears that a weak economy point to an anemic holiday season are driving retailers in New Jersey and elsewhere to pay a lot of attention to the theft of goods, called shrinkage, that can hammer a company’s bottom line.

“Loss-prevention continues to be a big concern for all sorts of retailers,” said John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association in Trenton. “Based on my talks with New Jersey retailers, there is some anecdotal evidence that the weak economy is helping to drive an increase in shoplifting as we head into the all-important holiday season.”
Theft will cost North American retailers about $42.3 billion in 2008, down from $43.5 billion last year, according to an annual study released last month by Checkpoint Systems Inc. The Thorofare-based company, which sells retail antitheft systems, credits the drop in shrinkage to improved security measures.

Most of the shrinkage cost is borne by U.S. retailers, according to the Checkpoint survey.
The true cost, though, “is not just borne by retailers, but by consumers and society at large,” said Rob van der Merwe, chief executive officer of Checkpoint. “Shrink is a serious threat to retailers’ bottom lines, and amounts to a hidden ‘tax’ on consumers who are already dealing with the strain of their tightening household budgets during the economic downturn.”

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