UK Retailer Co-Op Sees Record Shoplifting So Far This Year

By Reuters
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UK Retailer Co-Op Sees Record Shoplifting So Far This Year

Britain's Co-operative Group, the mutually-owned supermarket, said it had recorded record levels of shoplifting this year and would invest in keeping prices low to help its customers in a cost-of-living crisis.

Co-op, echoing the mounting alarm being expressed by peers at surging shoplifting, said theft and fraud had cost it £33 million ($41 million) in the first six months, with retail crime incidents at its stores up 35% year-on-year.

Department store chain John Lewis said earlier this month that shoplifting had reached 'epidemic' levels in Britain.

Matt Hood, Co-op food boss, said theft was no longer concentrated on high value goods like tobacco and alcohol as it had been in the past, but extended to areas like confectionery, meat and baby food.

"It does give us more of a challenge because it is spread across the store," he said, adding that Co-op had invested in AI cameras as well as covert and non-covert guarding.


Co-op, like other retailers, said the police needed to improve their response and do more to target prolific offenders and criminal gangs.

Earlier this month, the UK retailer extended its trial project to use empty 'dummy display packaging' for certain products to curb incidents of shoplifting.


The Co-op, Britain's seventh biggest supermarket chain which also has a funerals and legal business, said it would invest about £90 million ($110.64 million) in preventing price rises over 2023, sacrificing profitability to help customers, many of whom are member-owners, deal with high inflation.

Britain has recorded high levels of grocery inflation for some 18 months and it stood at 12.2% in the four weeks to 3 September, its lowest level in a year, industry data showed,


Hood said there was still a long way to go.

"There's many, many commodity prices which genuinely aren't coming down as quickly as hoped and even some that do continue to rise," Hood said.

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