Violence in Convenience Stores Almost Doubles and is Linked to Shoplifting Epidemic

An annual report by the Association of Convenience Stores has found violence against shop staff has jumped from 41,000 to 76,000 incidents in a year.
Violence in Convenience Stores Almost Doubles and is Linked to Shoplifting Epidemic
A man enters a convenience store in Scotland on Sep. 1, 2017. (Lauren Hurley/PA Wire)
Chris Summers

Violence against shopkeepers and their assistants has jumped from 41,000 incidents in 2022 to 76,000 in 2023, according to a survey by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

In the ACS’s 2024 Crime Report they said there had been 5.6 million incidents of shop theft in the past 12 months, a huge jump from the 1.1 million incidents recorded a year ago.

The report also reveals corner shop retailers have recorded over 600 incidents of theft an hour over the last year.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “Retailers are facing an onslaught of crime committed against their businesses on a daily basis, with some losing tens of thousands of pounds per year to theft alone.”

‘Extended Crimewave Cannot Continue’

“This extended crimewave cannot be allowed to continue. Thieves are known to the community and to the police but they simply do not care, and continue on regardless, filling baskets and trolleys and walking out without fear of reproach,” he added.

Retailers have invested £339 million in the last year on CCTV, security staff, intruder alarms and internal communication systems but the ACS say more help is needed from the police and government if shops are not going to out of business and leave many areas as retail deserts.

The ACS said retailers were having to pass on the cost of combating shoplifting to law-abiding customers and this was resulting in a 10p “crime tax” on every transaction, up from 6p last year.

Chief Superintendent Alex Goss, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for retail crime, told the Financial Times, “Retail crime can have a significant impact on victims which is why we are committed to doing all we can to reduce thefts and pursue offenders.”
But he said the police was “already seeing positive results” from the Retail Crime Action Plan, which was unveiled in October.
Last month the Co-Op said it had experienced a 44 percent year-on-year rise in shoplifting, abuse, violence, and anti-social behaviour, equating to around 1,000 incidents every day across its 2,400 stores.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also said recently the number of violent and abusive incidents rose to 1,300 per day in 2022–2023, from 870 cases per day the year before.

£230 Million Earmarked in Budget to Help Police

On Tuesday the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is set to provide £230 million toward time-saving technology to improve police productivity.

The Treasury said over the weekend the measures will include the rollout of automated redaction of personal information during evidence collation.

This will allow—among other uses—name badges in CCTV footage of shoplifting incidents to be pixelated.

The ACS 2024 Crime Report also found:
  • The top motivations for shoplifting were drug or alcohol addiction, organised crime involvement and opportunism.
  • The top triggers for abuse and violence in convenience stores were encounters with shoplifters, enforcing the law on age-restricted sales, and refusing to serve drunk customers.
  • Sixty seven percent of corner shop retailers believe the cost of living crisis has led to an increase in theft.
  • Seventy six percent of retailers believe shoplifting, on behalf of organised crime, has become more prevalent over the past year.
Last year, a coalition made up of the ACS, the BRC, the British Independent Retail Association (BIRA), the Federation of Small Businesses, the Federation of Independent Retailers and the shopworkers’ union Usdaw wrote a letter to police and crime commissioners in England and Wales demanding more action against shoplifters and those who abused shop assistants.
In September, the CEO of the BIRA, Andrew Goodacre, told The Epoch Times gangs led by organised criminals were stealing to order, often in so-called grab-and-go raids, and feeding a black market in everything from cheese and meat to luxury goods.

He said, “There seems to be a more organised approach to some of the thefts that are taking place.”