RETAILERS AND CUSTOMERS have both been warned to be “extra vigilant” about shoplifters and pickpockets during the Christmas and New Year shopping period.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said that both groups will be twice as likely to be targeted because of the recession and more than half of all retail outlets will experience more than one incident of stealing.
According to the Association, the direct cost to retailers because of shoplifting this year will be over €220 million. About €44 million of that figure will occur at Christmas time. That represents almost €155,000 worth of goods stolen each hour.
It is estimated that shoplifting adds up to 3 per cent to the price of products, as security costs also need to be taken into account.
In a statement, ISME said there is also a “huge indirect” cost of crime to business, including “disruption to business activity with delayed orders, loss of customers and poor staff morale leading to absenteeism, and increased management time devoted to dealing with the aftermath of shoplifting incidents”.
Chief executive Mark Fielding said, “Criminals see the Christmas period as the ideal opportunity, with larger crowds in stores, more stock on shelves and an increase in temporary staff, who may not have the experience to identify shoplifters.”
The most common items taken by shoplifters are alcohol, electronic goods, toiletries, clothing and food. There has also been a significant surge in the theft of luxury items, including designer clothes, toys and expensive toiletries. Some products are even ‘stolen to order’.
ISME has advised retailers to liaise regularly with the Garda crime prevention office, and to maintain good stock controls.
“The Association expects an increased garda presence in the main commercial and shopping centres, together with swift court action to deter retail crime and jail the offenders, rather than the revolving door policy of prior years, which had the perpetrators back on the streets to reoffend before the New Year sales,” concluded Fielding.