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Retail crime cost U.S. retailers $41.7 billion in 2011

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud, organized retail crime and administrative errors cost the retail industry $41.7 billion in the United States in 2011, representing 1.6% in sales, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer released Tuesday by Checkpoint Systems. Of that, $18.4 billion was attributed to employee theft, $14.9 billion to shoplifters, $6.6 billion to internal error and $1.8 billion to suppliers.

Internal shrink appears to be a more significant issue — 697,000 employees were caught in 2011 after having stolen an average of $1,764.76 per incident. More shoplifters were nabbed in 2011 — 1.7 million — but the average amount stolen per incident was much lower at $373.64. However, it may be difficult to draw a hard line between internal and external thievery, the author of the report suggested, as employees may be a part of an organized retail crime group and may in fact have sought employment with the sole purpose of stealing for such a group.

“Although there are commentators who view retail crime as a harmless or intriguing social phenomenon, or simply as a cost of doing business, this ignores the impact of criminal gangs, growing levels of violence against employees and customers, and the links between retail crime and drugs, fraud and extortion,” said Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the study. “Moreover, retail crime on average cost families in the 43 countries surveyed an extra $200 on their shopping bill, up from $186 last year. In the [United States], that figure was $435.”

The overall shrink rate was 6% higher across the United States in 2011 versus 2010, and represented the highest percentage recorded by the survey since it began in 2007. The study monitored the cost of shrink (loss from shoplifting, employee theft and administrative errors) in the global retail industry between July 2010 and June 2011. It found that shrink increased in all regions surveyed. Customer theft, including shoplifting and organized retail crime, was up 13.4% globally and was cited as the primary cause for shrink in most countries — 43.2%, or $51.5 billion, worldwide was attributed to theft.

The 2011 study also found that while retailers increased their spending on loss prevention and security by 5.6% over 2010 to $28.3 billion globally, loss-prevention equipment’s share of total loss-prevention expenditures actually declined slightly.

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September housing starts jump 15%

BY Ken Clark

September housing starts showed double-digit increases compared with both last year and last month, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 658,000, up 15% from the August rate of 572,000, and up 10.2% compared with September 2010.

The figure of 658,000 was the highest total housing-starts figure since April 2010, when starts stood at 687,000.

"The housing starts number this morning was good. whether it’s real — we’ll find out next month," said Joshua Rosenbaum, managing director, Global Industrial Group, UBS. "Some of it might be a release of pent-up demand."

While the double-digit gains could spark optimism in a building industry toiling near record lows, the single-family figures were not quite as uplifting. Single-family starts came in at a rate of 425,000, a 1.7% increase compared with August.

However, single-family starts were down 4.9% from the September 2010 figure of 447,000.

Meanwhile, building permits in September were at a rate of 594,000, 5% below the August rate of 625,000.

On a regional basis, the biggest improvement came in the Midwest, where single-unit starts increased 46% compared with the previous month. Going the other direction, single-family housing starts fell 29.3% in the Northeast on a year-over-year basis. 

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Energy-saving products retailer launches website

BY HBSDealer Staff

California-based e-commerce retailer Thomason Ventures has launched a new website, AlternativeHomeProducts.com, which features such energy-saving household products as inverter fuses, inverter remotes, solar panels, rechargeable lights, solar kits, solar accessories, wireless HD tuners, tools and power packs. 

"We want to educate consumers about numerous products that are better for the environment and save money too,” said co-founder Tim Buescher. “We have some great products available that can help homeowners get off the grid and generate their own electricity."

New products are added to the site routinely, and customers can search and browse for available products by category. 

Thomason Ventures Incorporated was founded in 2011. 

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