Tesco and Sainsbury’s have been the hardest hit by thieves over recent months, new figures have revealed.
According to Freedom of Information requests by The Telegraph, shoplifting cases have spiked by 16% in the past three months as the cost of living drives more thieves to target supermarkets.
Big 4 grocer’s Tesco and Sainsbury’s accounted for two-fifths (40%) of shoplifting cases overall.
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More than 20 police forces showed officers were called to 10,019 cases in October this year, compared to 8,602 cases in July.
In response, retailers have been tightening security measures in stores as inflation drives up the cost of everyday essentials.
In July, certain Aldi stores began putting security tags on cheese, as the price for one block hit £3.99.
Last month, security tags were also spotted on four-pint containers of milk in Tesco Extra in Pool, Cornwall, as staff members reported a string of thefts.
According to market research firm Kantar, the average annual shopping bill has risen by £380 – as the number of customers shopping for own-label products increases by 46.3%.
“It’s not just the financial cost of theft which is important, customers and store staff can be left traumatised by such incidents, particularly where violence is involved,” director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, Tom Ironside said.
He added that shoplifting cost retailers £663m in 2020-21, pushing up the cost of operating stores and raising prices for customers.
Consumer champion Martyn James said the scale of the problem could be “much higher” as local supermarkets are “reluctant to report some instances of shoplifting.”
James added: “There is little doubt though that the cost of living crisis is driving people to do things they would never have previously considered.
“This increase in theft is not being driven by people seeking a ‘thrill’ or a rise in kleptomaniacs. It’s people struggling to make ends meet – and as bills increase over winter, this may only just be the beginning.”