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First ever fall in European losses

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European retailers are crediting better technology for a fall in the value of goods lost to theft and administrative error.

Retailers refer to such losses as "shrinkage" - theft by staff or customers, fraud by suppliers or administrative error. The European Theft Barometer from the Centre for Retail Research, which has run since 2000, found the first-ever fall in the value of such theft.

Turnover shrinkage, as a percentage of turnover, fell from 1.45 per cent to 1.37 per cent. Countries with higher levels of shrinkage, like Britain, saw the biggest falls. Shrinkage in the UK was 1.69 per cent of turnover - the highest level in Western Europe. Retailers believe theft by customers makes up 48 per cent of these losses, theft by employees for 28 per cent, and suppliers are responsible for seven per cent. Internal mistakes and pricing errors account for the remaining 17 per cent.

Sixty eight per cent of respondents used some form of electronic article surveillance in at least some of their stores. Two thirds of retailers believe that source tagging by product manufacturers would be "helpful" or "very helpful". But 60 per cent of retailers who have tried source tagging projects found manufacturers unhelpful.

Researchers talked to 436 European retailers in 16 countries, representing 21 per cent of European retail trade.

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