Co-Op, a UK retailer, has experienced an unprecedented surge in shoplifting 2023
The Cooperative Group in Britain, a supermarket owned by its members, has reported an all-time high in incidents of shoplifting for the current year. In response to the cost-of-living crisis faced by its customers, the Co-op has pledged to invest in maintaining affordable prices.
Similar to its peers, the Co-op has expressed growing concerns about the escalating issue of shoplifting. In the first six months of the year, theft and fraud have resulted in losses of £33 million ($41 million) for the retailer, with retail crime incidents at its stores witnessing a 35% year-on-year increase.
The department store chain John Lewis recently characterized the level of shoplifting in Britain as reaching ‘epidemic’ proportions.
Matt Hood, the Co-op’s food division leader, noted that theft is no longer confined to high-value items like tobacco and alcohol, as seen in the past. It has now expanded to include items such as confectionery, meat, and baby food.
Hood remarked, “It does give us more of a challenge because it is spread across the store.” To address this issue, the Co-op has invested in AI-powered surveillance cameras, as well as both undercover and visible security personnel.
The Co-op, like other retailers, is calling for an improved police response and more efforts to target repeat offenders and organized criminal groups.
Earlier this month, the UK retailer extended its trial project to use empty ‘dummy display packaging’ for certain products to deter incidents of shoplifting.
Investments: The Co-op, ranked as the seventh-largest supermarket chain in Britain and also involved in funeral and legal services, announced plans to invest approximately £90 million ($110.64 million) in preventing price increases throughout 2023. This move signifies a willingness to sacrifice profitability to support its customers, many of whom are members of the cooperative, in coping with high inflation.
Britain has been grappling with high grocery inflation for roughly 18 months, with the rate standing at 12.2% in the four weeks leading up to 3 September, according to industry data. Matt Hood emphasized that there is still a long way to go in addressing this issue, stating, “There are many, many commodity prices which genuinely aren’t coming down as quickly as hoped and even some that do continue to rise.”