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SGF report reveals devastating impact of crime on the Scottish convenience sector

Figures published in the SGF Crime Report & Safer Business Guide 2023/24, today (14th Mar), highlight a shocking escalation in retail crime over the past year, while the sector calls for urgent action from government.

Findings uncovered by the convenience trade association show that the average cost of retail crime skyrocketed to £12,164 per store in 2023/24. As an average across the 763 stores which took part in the SGF annual crime survey. Scaling up the sample to represent all 5,171 convenience stores in Scotland, this accounts for an annual cost of approximately £62.9million which is crippling the sector.

Information gathered for the report and published during the SGF annual Crime & Wellbeing Seminar, being held at Hampden Park today, shows that:

  • 100% of convenience retailers agree that shoplifting has increased in the past year, while 99.5% say that shoplifting is now a daily occurrence.
  • More than nine out of every ten stores report that violence against staff occurs at least once a week and Hate Crime once a month (92.8% and 92.7% respectively)
  • Over half (56.9%) of respondents also report experiencing daily incidents of abuse when refusing a sale or when asking for proof of age.

Analysis of the data also reveals a fall in confidence in the Scottish Justice System to tackle the growing problem of retail crime. With, for example, over two thirds of respondents saying they are either unlikely or very unlikely to report shoplifting incidents to the police.

SGF Chief Executive, Dr Pete Cheema OBE, said: “Almost every week we are told of another terrible incident in one of our members’ stores. From machete and knife attacks to organised gangs roving through communities targeting vulnerable businesses to loot. It’s completely understandable that some members of staff are now refusing to come to work for fear of their safety. 

“Sadly, these incidents and many others even more distressing and harrowing cases of shop theft, abuse, threatening behaviour, and violence are now commonplace in stores right across Scotland. Our annual survey of Scottish convenience stores shows just how bad things have become.

“It’s not just the escalating price tag of theft and vandalism that is costing convenience businesses, but harm to the physical health and wellbeing of retailers and staff. That trauma is then carried home to people’s families and their local communities.

“That is why we desperately need Ministers to take urgent action, now. The police and courts can’t cope, and many crimes are going unreported because retailers don’t believe the authorities will respond. Offenders know they’re unlikely to face any consequences for their crimes and even if they are arrested, many will spend years awaiting conviction.   

“We are urging the Scottish Government to act now, before things get even worse. If not now, then when?” 

The SGF Crime Report & Safer Business Guide 2023/24 provides a range of resources and materials, including crime case studies from Retailers Against Crime and advice for retailers on conflict management, in-store security measures and cybercrime.

Header image: Scottish Grocers Federation