American workers steal from their employers — a lot.
The Global Retail Theft Barometer released Thursday by Checkpoint Systems finds that American employees steal from their employers at significantly higher rates than workers in other countries, with the exception of Argentina. While in most countries shoplifting makes up the bulk of shrinkage (in layman’s terms, shrinkage is the difference between the revenue businesses should have received and the revenue they do receive, and is thanks in large part to losses from shoplifting, employee theft and vendor/supplier fraud), in the U.S., the bulk of shrinkage is due to employees stealing from their employers. Indeed, 43% of shrinkage in the U.S. is due to employee theft (vs. 37% from shoplifting). Globally, it’s just 28% from employee theft (vs. 39% from shoplifting).
While experts at The Global Retail Theft Barometer say it’s not clear why employee theft is so high in the U.S. — at least compared with other countries’ workers — they do have information on how these workers steal from their employers. Most of it happens during checkout/the point of sale “when an associate purposely manipulates a transaction for the benefit of themselves or someone else,” says Ernie Deyle, the study author and leader of the business consulting practice at data analytics firm Sysrepublic. For example, workers may issue refunds, discounts or voids at the register when they shouldn’t, or cancel transactions, modify prices or say someone used a coupon when they didn’t.
And that all adds up: Employee theft cost U.S. retailers $18 billion in 2013 — that’s $2.3 billion more than shoplifting cost them and $13-plus billion more than vendor and supplier fraud and administrative and non-crime losses cost them apiece. “Key reasons of dishonest employee theft include ineffective pre-employment screening, less employee supervision and easy sale of stolen merchandise,” the report reveals.
Employee theft at certain kinds of stores in this country is more prominent than at others. Discounters, for example, experience a very high rate of employee theft as a percentage of total shrinkage, while home improvement and gardening stores do not.
[by Catey Hill, writing for MARKETWATCH]
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