Convenience and speciality food stores are the second-biggest losers when it comes retail theft only clothing outlets faring worse, according to the latest annual survey by the Centre for Retail Research for Checkpoint Systems.

Total shrinkage, which also includes losses caused by internal error, accounted for nearly 2% of sales in small food and grocery stores in the year to June.

While they were among the most targeted format, supermarkets were only the 10th in the Europe-wide survey of more than 500 retailers and 60,000 stores.

The data was not broken down by format, but overall retail theft figures for the UK showed more than £4.4bn of goods were stolen in the year to June, equivalent to 1.3% of all sales. Although a decline of almost 6% on last year's figure, when retail theft soared, it is still higher than the £3.7bn lost in 2008.

Perhaps most worrying for UK retailers is the finding that more than a third (36.8%) of all theft over the past year was carried out by employees, significantly higher than the European average of 29.8%. Slightly more retail theft in the UK, 42.7%, was committed by shoplifters.

Internal error ­accounted for 17% of retail shrinkage in the UK, while supply chain losses made up the remaining 3.5%.

"Even with the decline in retail theft, crime put an ­extra £180 on the average family's yearly shopping bill," said Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research.

The British Retail Consortium disputed the findings, but a spokesman said: "Retail crime needs to be taken seriously."