Global retailers lost $119 billion to shoplifters in 2011, according to the Center for Retail Research. This was equivalent to 1.45 percent of total sales that year. While many shoplifters consider stealing from big business acceptable, the cost of store theft ultimately gets passed on to consumers, but can hit small and medium-sized businesses hard.

Staff Costs

Many businesses feel compelled to take on security staff as part of their efforts to tackle shoplifting. Recruiting, training and paying the wages of these new workers costs money. Companies that can't afford to take on security staff can lose employee hours through their workers monitoring suspicious shoppers and processing shoplifters who are caught stealing. Contacting the police and dealing with the administrative side of bringing a thief to justice takes time that could be spent on other business areas.

Security Equipment

Installing CCTV cameras and security scanners at retail stores is an expensive business. Companies that decide to install security cameras then need somebody to operate them if they're going to be truly effective. Some stores even add security tags to smaller items such as drinks bottles and expensive meats and keep pricier products such as smartphones and perfumes behind their counters in an effort to combat thieves. Investing in all this equipment can have a serious impact on a company's bottom line.


Some small and medium-sized business owners feel duty-bound to confront any shoplifters they find pilfering from their premises. This can put them in danger if the thief they attempt to apprehend is intent on escaping without being arrested or is carrying a weapon.


Any extra cost that a business incurs as a result of shoplifting will typically be passed on to its customers. The cost of global retail crime-plus-loss prevention was $128 billion in 2011, according to the Center for Retail Research. This is equivalent to $199.89 per family. Larger companies are usually better able to absorb shoplifting losses, meaning that smaller firms are often harder hit by shoplifting losses. Smaller businesses often feel unable to increase their prices through fear of becoming uncompetitive.