Theft from Australian stores has jumped from 1.5% of revenue to 2% since November, says the Australian Retail Association.
The figure equates to an annual loss of $5.8 billion to shoplifting, according to the association’s CEO, Richard Evans.
He says a surge in the theft of necessities such as baby food and razor blades reflects the effect of rising interest rates and fuel prices. “The retail industry is a barometer of bigger social issues, and when you have people stealing the basic necessities like baby food and petrol, that says that people are really suffering,” Evans told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
Charter Security, which has several major retail chains among its clients, has warned that increased shop theft was forcing retailers to push up prices.
“We are seeing a clear trend over the past 16 months or so of increased theft of consumables, basic necessities,” says Charter director, Mike Ramsay.
“It’s a trend that pops up in times of recessions and credit crunches, and we are seeing it again now.”
The most shoplifted items by a long way were razors and razor blades, he said.
Other goods popular with the light-fingered were shampoo, make-up, perfumes, tinned food, baby food, butter, CDs and DVDs.