Criminologists and police organizations have studied aspects of shoplifting thoroughly. Relying on data collected from departments stores, loss prevention officers and store security, as well as interviews of the general public and shoplifters, the studies have provided an immense amount of insight into shoplifting. Some general observations can be made.
As many as 10% of shoppers in any given department store may shoplift before leaving the store. Shoplifting is the most common of all abnormal consumer behaviours. It is believed to have a pervasive and detrimental impact on both industry and society at large.
The Role of Age has big impact on shoplifting as study shows between 37 and 63% of adolescents shoplift in a given one-year period, while studies indicate that 61% of college-aged individuals have shoplifted at least once.
Shoplifting is often considered an offence that is most often committed by women. However, the stereotypes about the bored thrill-seeking housewife or the kleptomaniac grandmother are not supported by the research. In fact, it is believed that men are slightly more likely to shoplift than women; or at least more likely to admit it when asked.
Similarly, younger individuals have increased rates of shoplifting as compared to older people. Not surprisingly, people of modest income are more likely to shoplift than those from an-upper class background. However, the amount of available spending money a person has available typically shows no relation to the decision to shoplift.
For every shoplifter arrested, it is estimated that 34 shoplifters get away with it. Retailers argue that shoplifting accounts for 30% of store losses annually, with the total dollar value of goods shoplifted totalling at least $30 billion.
Shoplifting doesn’t just impact retailers; the average North American household may pay upwards of $360 more per year for goods, due to the rising costs of shoplifting. Furthermore, up to 7.5 cents on every dollar is lost due to shoplifting.
The decision of loss prevention officers to involve the authorities in a shoplifting incident is not influenced as strongly by race, sex, or economic status as some may believe. Rather, the items that were shoplifted, such as merchandise of high value, alcohol, or other inedible goods, are more likely to be the basis for whether or not the LPOs call the police.
It is believed that most of the people apprehended for shoplifting are amateurs. Loss prevention officers patrolling stores while acting as ordinary shoppers can often spot suspicious behaviour, typically associated with first-time or novice shoplifters.