Shoplifting is not the same in every store. Different store layouts and even the number of workers on the floor can all impact the amount of merchandise that walks off the shelves in a given year.
However, new figures suggest that one of the leaders in preventing shoplifting is Costco, and not by a small margin. The reasons for their ability to reduce shoplifting are far from surprising.
Statistics Say Shoplifting Rarely Happens at Costco
A recent article in Barron's found that Costco was the retail industry's leader in keeping “shrinkage rates” low.
A store's shrinkage rate is a catchall term for merchandise that has been lost to either:
- Cashier error
- Employee theft, or
- Damage to merchandise
According to the article, Costco's shrinkage rate is an estimated 0.11% or 0.12% of its sales. This puts Costco's shrinkage rate at a tenth of even the bottom range of the retail industry's average of between one and two percent.
Several Factors at Play in Costco's Deterrence of Shoplifting
While shoplifting is just one aspect of a store's shrinkage rate, it is usually the biggest piece of the pie. Industry experts think that Costco's low shrinkage rate boils down to its store setup and even how it treats its employees.
Perhaps most importantly, Costco is infamous for putting a store employee at the exit to check the receipts of departing customers. While many shoppers experience their receipt check as a formality, the staffers are given the discretion to look more closely when they get a hunch that something isn't right.
What fewer Costco shoppers appreciate is that nearly all Costco stores have only a single entrance and exit. While fire exits are interspersed throughout the store, normal business flows through one spot, where the receipt-checking staffer is located. Creating this chokepoint prevents shoplifting but, more importantly, deters it with the illusion that leaving with merchandise is nearly impossible, especially when compared to stores in, for example, a shopping mall.
Adding to the apparent difficulties of shoplifting from a Costco is the fact that most of the merchandise is sold in bulk sizes.
Finally, Costco pays its employees considerably above the industry standard. The chain's $15 per hour minimum wage is above Walmart's $11 per hour and Target's $13 per hour. Costco employees care more on the job and stay around longer to accumulate the on-the-job experience that helps them detect and prevent shoplifting.
Shoplifting Defense at WTB Law in Portland
Getting accused of shoplifting from Costco or any store in Maine is a traumatizing experience. If convicted, you can face shockingly steep penalties for the significance of the offense. Even if you are not convicted, the mere allegation can seriously hurt your reputation and force you to answer some awkward questions from friends, family, and professional acquaintances.
The criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law in Portland can help. By advocating on your behalf, we can show that you did not shoplift from the store and that the allegations are groundless. Contact us online or call our law office at (207) 571-8146.