Shoplifting on the rise in supermarkets due to high inflation and self-checkouts

A significant rise in thefts at supermarkets in the Netherlands was observed in 2022, NOS reported on Saturday based on data provided by retail financial analysis firm Marshoek. The increase is primarily driven by high inflation and the widespread use of self-checkout systems.

Marshoek conducted an analysis of the financial records of over 300 supermarkets and calculated that in 2022, an average of 66,300 euros worth of products per store were taken without payment. This represents an increase of approximately 20,000 euros from the previous year. This corresponds to an additional cost of 70 million euros for the supermarket industry.

According to the retail financial analysis firm, fresh products such as potatoes, fruits, and vegetables, as well as bread, are the most frequently stolen items in supermarkets. The overall increase in shoplifting can be partly explained by the fact these goods have become more expensive compared to the previous year due to high inflation.

The report also pointed to the proliferation of self-scanning systems in supermarkets as a contributing factor that seems to encourage theft. Despite the rise in theft, the benefits of self-scanning have so far outweighed this downside. However, with the current substantial increase in theft, the impact is starting to be felt significantly.

Marshoek also highlighted that business owners are facing mounting challenges with this issue, which is an addition to increased energy bills, higher wages, and rent. Some owners are investing in additional security cameras, though their effectiveness is yet to be determined.

There is also the issue of staff members having to confront customers who fail to pay at self-checkout stations. This situation can become uncomfortable, and customers may become frustrated when subjected to random checks.

A NOS report showed that young employees at self-scan tills feel unsafe because of aggressive customers. They report customers throwing products at them, calling them names, or even threatening them.

According to Marshoek, another problem is that the police often do not have the capacity to catch the perpetrators. In April, a report indicated that the police registered a record number of shoplifting incidents in the first quarter of this year.

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