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Fraud costs mount for convenience retail sector

Fraud cost the convenience retail sector £9 million in 2018 – equivalent to £194 per store in the UK, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) trade body.

In the latest in a raft of recent annual reports detailing the impact of crime on the retail sector, the ACS’s review which was published this week indicated that counterfeit notes are the most prevalent type of fraud facing convenience chains up and down the UK.

The most common counterfeit banknote used in the sector is the Bank of England £20 paper note, according to the ACS. The Bank is expected to introduce the £20 polymer banknote in 2020, with the aim of reducing incidences of fraud, saying it is more difficult than the existing note to imitate.

While counterfeit notes are the most prevalent type of crime, the trade organisation warned that cybercrime and debit and credit card fraud are the most expensive types of fraud impacting the sector.

The overall impact of all types of crime on the convenience sector was estimated to be £246 million, with retailers most concerned about violence against staff, theft by customers, and verbal abuse from the public.

On average, each store in the UK spends £4,080 on crime prevention measures per year, with CCTV, external security and cash handling & storage the top areas of investment in this space. Earlier this month, the Co-op revealed a new in-store security measure involving a forensic fogging system that it says can help authorities trace criminals.

ACS CEO James Lowman called for action to reduce the volume and severity of crimes against the convenience sector, adding that government, police and crime commissioners, and chief constables must appreciate the far-reaching impact these crimes have on businesses, the people who work in them, and their communities.

“Retail crime is not victimless – its impact on the people running, working in and using local shops is lasting, tangible and profound,” he said.

“Everyone connected with our sector, with law enforcement and with the treatment of offenders can play a part in tackling this problem. Help us to help the victims of retail crime.”

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