Shrink — comprised of shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud, organized retail crime and administrative errors — cost the retail industry more than $112 billion globally last year, according to the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer. Shrink represented 1.4 percent of retail sales, on average.

The study, underwritten by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems Inc., was conducted in 2013 by Euromonitor Int’l, and was based on in-depth telephone and written survey interviews conducted in 16 countries among retailers covering 160,000 stores representing $1.5 trillion in sales in 2012. Checkpoint Systems is a global provider of merchandise availability solutions for the retail industry, encompassing loss prevention and merchandise visibility.

Positive news for systems integrators: Retail respondents with particularly strong investments in loss prevention told researchers they believe that they manage shrinkage well, and typically reported shrink rates well below the respective country average, with investments clearly paying off. In fact, UK and German retailers stated that improving loss prevention methods helped them to keep shrink under control. Overall, retailers interviewed estimated their future loss prevention investments would increase or stay stable.

According to the study, shrink is on the rise in most countries with increases noted in shoplifting, employee theft and organized retail crime. The lowest shrink rates were recorded in Japan (1 percent of retail sales), followed by Hong Kong, Australia and Germany (1.1 percent). The United States came in at 1.5 percent of retail sales. The highest rates were recorded in Brazil and Mexico (1.6 percent). The cost of shrink to U.S. shoppers averaged $300 per household.

Among the most stolen merchandise reported by the retailers were fashion accessories, jeans, footwear and lingerie/intimate apparel; high-value electronics such as Apple products, consumer health such as allergy treatments; milk formula; electronic games and satellite navigation/GPS; and mobile device accessories such as cases and earphones.

“Shrink is a multi-dimensional threat for retailers across the globe, with shoplifting and employee theft, including organized crime, on the rise. Growing shrink concerns have put loss prevention high on the agenda of retailers; companies are keen to invest in effective and proven loss prevention methods, collaborating with technology companies and specialists for loss management solutions to diminish these shrink problems,” according to Euromonitor Int’l’s report.

Interested parties can obtain a copy of the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer report via