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Retailers expect more theft, fraud this holiday season

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Not everything about the Christmas shopping season is bright and merry for retailers: According to a study produced by Checkpoint Systems, in the Thorofare section of West Deptford, U.S. retailers can expect to lose $8.9 billion in theft, fraud and vendor losses during the busy season.

The report showed $3.8 billion in merchandise will be shoplifted, $4.7 billion will be taken by employees and vendors will cause up to $400 million in losses. The total amount lost is expected to increase 4 percent from 2011’s holiday season.

Top product categories likely to walk out of the store unpaid include alcohol, apparel, toys, health care items and electronics. These losses, called shrink, are expected to add roughly $98 to the average consumer’s holiday shopping total.

Dan Reynolds, vice president of North American sales and customer service for Checkpoint, said New Jersey mirrors national trends in sales and in shrink.

“Retailers are bringing in more inventory, there are crowded stores and employees that are busy servicing customers at the point of sale and bringing out merchandise – it makes for a tough time to protect against people that are more apt to steal during this period,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said a big problem is employees giving extra discounts to friends and family, especially for apparel. Employee dishonesty is expected to cause more than 50 percent of all shrinkage this year.

Checkpoint Systems provides loss prevention tools to retailers, including RFID tags and other monitoring devices. Reynolds said deterrence and good customer service are two ways any retailer can prevent merchandise from walking out of the store.

“A lot of systems have been put into place in the last 60 days in preparation for the next six weeks,” Reynolds said.

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