The new findings come as the retail sector reports record levels of shoplifting 

The shoplifting scourge has seen 30% of consumers witness an incident of theft in the past year, according to new research by Retail Insight.

From a poll of over 1,000 UK consumers, it also found the average UK shopper had witnessed four instances of theft in store, rising to five shoplifting incidents for the average consumer in London.

The new findings come as the retail sector reported record levels of shoplifting over the past year, creating a costly challenge for businesses.

According to the Association of Convenience Stores, the sector suffered a 409% surge in shoplifting last year, reaching 5.6 million incidents. That amounted to 600 incidents of theft occurring every hour in 2023.

Among the wider retail sector, losses from theft almost doubled to £1.8bn in 2023, equalling to 45,000 incidents a day, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Such acts have driven retailers to roll out a swathe of crime prevention measures, which the BRC said had cost the retail sector £3.3bn, such as placing high-value items in secured cabinets or increasing the presence of security guards in store.

Retail Insight said while these anti-theft tactics could be effective, they also tended to have a detrimental effect on the customer experience.

“There’s little doubt that shoplifting poses a challenging and costly issue for retailers, many of whom are already giving away margin to keep the cost of everyday foods as low as possible for customers amidst cost of living pressures,” said Retail Insight CEO Paul Boyle.