An annual retail crime survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has shown the UK retail industry has seen a total of £1.9bn in crime and prevention costs last year, showing a 12% increase compared to £1.7bn in 2017.
The total costs include £1bn spent in efforts to prevent crime and a direct cost of £900m from retail crime.
The direct costs of crime cover a £700m loss arising from customer theft, which increased by 31% from the previous year.
BRC conducted the survey by covering the period between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 and collected responses from retailers controlling almost 11,000 stores.
The study also noted that the £1.9bn total cost of crime is equal to approximately 20% of the estimated profits of the entire retail industry.
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said: “The spiralling cost of retail crime, both in losses and the cost of prevention, is a huge burden to a retail sector that is already weighed down by the twin challenges of skyrocketing business costs and Brexit uncertainty.
“We hope this report will act as a catalyst for police and crime commissioners around the country to take action. Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by Police and Crime Plans.
“Furthermore, Parliament must play its part in stemming this tide of crime by creating a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from an assault at work, as has been done for emergency workers.”
The study also revealed that 115 retail employees were attacked at work on a daily basis by pointing knives.
In addition, around 70% of respondents considered that the police response to retail crime as poor or very poor while 20% of respondents considered it as good or excellent. However, police response was considered generally better for violent incidents.
The study also identified that the cost spent by retailers on cybersecurity increased to 17%, compared to £162m the previous year.
Almost 80% of the retailers have agreed that they have seen an increase in cyber-attacks.