GAINESVILLE, Fla., June 19 (UPI) -- An ad-hoc survey found 74 percent of U.S. retailers suspect shoplifting has increased this year, the National Retail Federation says.
The survey of 116 retailers last April indicates shoplifting nationwide may have increased as economic pressures mounted, USA Today said Thursday.
The federation plans to release the more formal National Retail Security Survey next week. The survey, compiled by University of Florida criminology Professor Richard Hollinger, examines 2007 data.
"It's clear that both employee theft and shoplifting are up," Hollinger said. "The most recent rise is being driven by the economy. A lot of people are on the financial edge."
Retail theft has been blamed for annual losses of nearly $40.5 billion and such losses directly impact retailers' profit margins.
Also credited with the likely increase in shoplifting is the popularity of the Internet, which USA Today reported allows individuals to easily resell shoplifted items.
Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk told the newspaper economic pressures have led to desperate shoppers.
"Wages aren't keeping up with inflation, especially the price of food and energy," Swonk said. "It just leaves less money for everything else, and that breeds a lot of temptation."