The results of the NRSS are in! And some of it might surprise you.
The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) is an annual publication that aggregates information from retail sources across the industry. The results demonstrate not only overall trends in loss prevention and retail theft , but also targeted information on what kinds of theft are being committed, and whether certain steps and precautions seem to be making a difference.
The 2017 NRSS report saw spikes in several different categories including internal theft, external theft, and overall shrink. However, these numbers have settled in 2018 back to something more closely resembling historical norms. For example, the number of companies reporting inventory shrink accounting for 2% or more of all sales was 26.1% in 2017, but settled to 20% in 2018.
Additionally, the average dollar loss from robberies has continued on a three-year decline, resulting in the number being about half of what it was in 2016. While this issue is still prevalent, the falling cost per incident is encouraging.
Perhaps contributing to these positive trends is the fact that more than a third of survey participants saw an uptick in staffing and budget all around. In fact, the number of companies that reported declining budgets decreased overall, seeming to indicate that loss prevention needs are being taken more seriously than in the past.
While the concerning spikes in 2017 have leveled, the overall numbers are still trending upwards, signifying that shrink is still a growing problem in the retail industry. While the number of respondents reporting shrink at 2% or higher is down from 2017 to 20%, that number is still significantly larger than an in 2015, where only 17.1% of respondents reported losses that high.
Additionally, while the average loss from robberies is in fact declining, the number of robberies resulting in $10,000 dollars or more in losses now accounts for one-third of incidents in 2018, a number that represents a worrisome increase from previous years.
The fact remains that measures put in place specifically to deter internal and external shrink have dropped in use across the board. The study shows that retailers are especially prone to eschew investing in technologically advanced methods of prevention, and when they catch shoplifters, they are less likely to take punitive actions(though punitive actions show a slight increase from 2017.
Further muddying the waters is that while staffing seems to be increasing, respondents reported needing as many as 8 more LP employers to properly cover their needs. And not all applicants are qualified for LP. The number of skills required of loss prevention specialists has increased dramatically. LP professionals must now play a role in preventing not only physical loss, but investigation, cybercrime, crisis management, and IT security. The number of hats an LP professional needs to wear seems to only increase year to year.
What Can Retailers Do to Combat these Issues?
NRSS reports that the number of retailers screening for criminal records, employment and education history, and drug testing has all dropped since 2017. As background screening can often be the first step in stopping dishonest employees from committing internal theft (which still accounts for 33.2%, up more than 3% from 2017), running fewer background screens is worrying.
Not only can thorough background checks help vet potentially risky hires, GIS maintains the National Retail Mutual Association (NRMA) Theft Database, a proprietary database that focuses purely on incidents of retails theft. For more information on the database, visit http://www.geninfo.com/industries/retail/nrma/.
To see the NRSS report in its entirety, click here.