Leading local retailers have sounded an alarm over increased cases of operational losses occasioned by shoplifting and general theft.
The losses, technically referred to as shrinkage in retail trade parlance, is rising by the day due to what industry players fear could be a case of an emerging organised pilferage ring targeting local supermarkets.
Speaking during the first Kenya Retail Industry Conference organised by GFK, one of the world’s leading market research companies, Nakumatt Holdings Managing Director Atul Shah disclosed that local retailers were suffering immense losses estimated at more than 1.5 per cent of turnover due to increased cases of shoplifting and general store stock losses arising from theft.
Going by Nakumatt’s analysis, Mr Shah explained that the emerging organised pilferage ring targeted high value products such as electronic items, furniture, baby food products, cosmetics and general food items.
With the formal retail trade market estimated to be worth more than Sh200 billion, the industry could well be losing more than Sh3 billion annually to shoplifters among other loss avenues.
Theft by servant
“What we previously thought to be small time cases of shoplifting has unfortunately evolved to become an organised crime leading to high shrinkage rates on our stockholding,” Mr Shah explained.
“It’s extremely alarming to note that conventional in store policy measures are not helping much and there’s an urgent need to review existing laws to make them more punitive both for shoplifters and also for employees tried under theft by servant clauses,” he added.
In a progressive move expected to fully entrench the role of retail traders in the local market, Mr Shah has reiterated the need for retail trade sector players to consider forming an umbrella association to address industry concerns.
The wholesale and retail sector, Shah noted was the second most important economic driver in Kenya having registered a 7.3 per cent growth beating manufacturing, agriculture, Transport and communication sectors according to the 2012 national economic survey.
“All local formal retailers need to engage in housekeeping by forming an industry lobby association to champion our interests. We must start speaking in one voice and seeking recognition and incentives to help accelerate our growth,” Mr Shah explained.