Violence and other forms of abuse against retail workers have risen by 40% in the past year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The BRC’s 2016 Retail Crime Survey also reveals that 53% of retail fraud is now cyber-enabled.
Examples of cyber-enabled crimes being committed include:
*Phishing: the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies to induce individuals to reveal personal information
*Theft of consumer data
*Doxing: searching for and publishing private or identifying information about an individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent
*Social engineering: psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information
The report highlights concerns among retailers that existing deterrence is not effective enough. There is a growing sense among those working in the retail industry that offenders are able to act with impunity.
The overall number of retail crimes committed has risen to 3.6 million, with the direct financial cost of crime to the retail industry reaching £660m in 2015-16.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “These figures reflect a deeply concerning trend. Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, as are attempts to defraud customers.
“A significant aspect of the cybersecurity challenge for retailers is the attractiveness of customer data from the point of view of criminals – many of whom operate outside UK borders, but can nevertheless gain relatively easy access to UK digital networks.
“Retailers are doing everything possible to ensure that staff members and customers are safe and protected.
“But this rising tide should be stemmed through stronger co-operation between industry, the government, law enforcement and the private security industry.
“There is work to do to improve collaboration between the UK retail industry and its partners, and to raise standards of security and standards of policing of these threats across the country.”
The survey sample covered 37% of the retail industry by turnover and 35% by staff, accounting for 1.1 million employees.