Shoplifting in 2023: An Epidemic Hitting Retailers


The national media has suddenly discovered what we have been saying here since COVID hit: figures show that shoplifting is going way up. This video blames the cost of living, but the truth, I think, is the terrible state of law enforcement, which is what the retailers here are saying.

Here are some statistic from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency  who have just released their latest report.

Shoplifting offences had increased in the 12 months to September by 7308, or 27.9 per cent, to 26,229 – the highest on record.


I found some figures for some other states here

Western Australia recorded 7733 shoplifting offences from July to September this year, according to police data – up from 5421 in the same three-month period last year, and 5077 in 2019.

NSW reported 27,015 shoplifting offences in the 12 months to September, up 36.1 per cent from the 19,851 recorded last year and higher than the 26,883 recorded in 2019, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Queensland reported 3153 shoplifting offences in March this year and has averaged 3035 per month up to November, higher than any other month recorded in publicly available data stretching back to January 2001.

South Australia reported 17,572 shoplifting offences in the 12 months to October, up by 4138 or 31 per cent on the year before.


How are you affected? As I explained here several times, the calculation to determine your shrinkage is relatively quick and easy to do. I suggest that you do it to see how you are affected. It is in your POS System, assuming you have done a stocktake.

I recommend calculating shrinkage for each department separately and then adding them together. This also allows you to identify problem areas.

(Shrinkage) = (Initial stock) + (Purchases) - (Sales) * (1-Margin) - (Closing stock)

If you lack stocktake data or want to do a quick calculation, use this simplified formula, which, based on my experience, gives reasonable figures and estimates. What we do is assume that your stock levels are relatively static, so we make

(Initial stock) = (Closing stock)

So, the formula becomes

(Shrinkage) = (Purchases) - (Sales) * (1-Margin)

As a quick rule of thumb, the shoplifting figure is a third of that figure; the rest will be divided up into other forms of shrinkage.

Many people want it as a percentage figure of sales, which is what most industry and legal bodies use, so use this formula if you want to share.

(Shrinkage %) = (Shrinkage)/ ((1-Margin) * (Sales))

Try this for your store. Knowing your shrinkage numbers is the first step to curbing shoplifting losses, as it will give you an idea of the extent of the problem. If should take you less then 30 minutes.


Determining the extent of your shrinkage losses is the critical first step. By calculating your overall shrinkage and estimating the shoplifting portion, you gain insight into this growing problem. Understanding your shrinkage empowers you to protect your retail business proactively. You accurately assessed your shoplifting epidemic, which positions you to combat it better.

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