Retail theft and fraud are rising at an alarming rate but expenditure on prevention measures is falling.
Those are two of the findings in what is claimed to be the most detailed report ever conducted into loss prevention within the UK retail sector.
Compiled following detailed interviews with loss and fraud prevention professionals at 100 of the UK's top retailers, Martec International's Retail Fraud Study found that retail businesses have so far this year suffered theft and fraud losses of £3.4bn, a 10% increase on last year.
At the same time, spending on loss prevention by retailers fell from 0.8% of sales last year to 0.7% of sales, predictably seeing shrinkage rise - from 0.9% of sales to 1.0%.
The study says the increase means that losses now almost match retailers' profits.
The biggest area of loss for the leading 100 UK retailers is shoplifting or external theft, reported by 33% of those surveyed - but this is followed by theft of stock by stores' own employees, complained of by 22% of respondents.
Highlighting the impact of the recession on the everyday shopper, the report also found that thieves' "shopping" habits have changed. Retailers saw a fall in the theft of high-priced goods and an increase in the loss of everyday essentials such as food: joints of meat were the most commonly-stolen item.