Sunday 22 May 2022 05:04 PM Cost-of-living crisis sparks boom in 'first time' shoplifters trends now
The cost of living crisis has sparked a boom in 'first time' shoplifters, according to supermarket bosses.
Thefts have soared since the beginning of the year and are continuing to increase in the wake of price rises caused by the war in Ukraine which have left many consumers struggling to make ends meet.
As a result, retailers say theft levels are 'off the charts so far this year' according to analysts as well as anecdotal evidence from supermarket bosses to their trade journal, The Grocer.
The magazine said: 'Store managers have told The Grocer of higher crime rates as they're noticing 'new first time shoplifters' as opposed to 'the usual suspects.''
Thefts have soared since the beginning of the year and are continuing to increase in the wake of price rises
Professional shoplifters tend to target high value goods they can sell on, such as alcohol, razors and other items but a new breed are stealing even the cheapest of products from the shelves, said The Grocer.
It added: 'One store manager reported shoplifting starting to rise across everyday and low-value items 'that you'd find in your weekly basket' in contrast to the more regularly targeted luxury, high-cost items.'
Retail analyst, Bryan Roberts, of Shopfloor Insights said: 'The situation is definitely getting worse' and said the crime rate was 'off the charts'.
Some shops have reintroduced the one-way entry and exit points that were around during Covid to help socially distance customers but are now there to make it easier to track who comes in and out.
Others have beefed up security in terms of personnel and/or CCTV cameras.
One store boss told The Grocer: 'The other day we stopped a pensioner who was trying to steal things like washing powder and shampoo. With the cost of living, people are going to have to start making choices.'
Food poverty expert and Ulster University senior lecturer Dr Sinéad Furey said this was 'not a new phenomenon'.
She said: 'We have seen this before in previous times of austerity or economic downturn.
'The return of 'stealing to eat' instead of being able to 'afford to eat' is yet more proof that we need effective policy solutions that put sufficient income in people's hands in a dignified way so that poverty and resorting to crime do not become mainstream means of securing the most basic essentials of living.'
Research by the Food Foundation showed in April 7.3 million UK adults skipped meals, reduced meal size or went without food for a day due to costs.
Shore Capital analyst, Clive Black, said the 'temptation to shoplift is likely to grow for some' as prices rose.
He added: 'More straitened times bring a greater risk, and in some cases, need, for shoplifting, which is a notable problem for shopkeepers, especially since the police are disinterested participants, despite stores paying extortionate rates.