Cost of crime skyrockets for convenience

Latest SGF report unveils the financial strain on retailers

Scottish Grocers' Federation chief executive Pete Cheema.
Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive Pete Cheema warns ministers to take urgent action on crime as costs rise for retailers and their mental health declines.

THE Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has outlined the devastating financial impact that retail crime in Scotland has had on the convenience sector.

Figures published in the SGF Crime Report & Safer Business 2023/24 has found that the average cost of retail crime has risen to £12,164 per store during the time period.

Taking an average from across 763 stores that responded to the crime report, the SGF said if scaled to represent all 5,171 convenience stores in Scotland, this accounts for approximately £62.9miilion.

Pete Cheema, chief executive at the SGF, said: “Almost every week we are told of another terrible incident in one of our members’ stores.

“From machete and knife attacks, to organised gangs roving through communities targeting vulnerable businesses to loot.

“It’s completely understandable that some members of staff are now refusing to work for fear of their safety.”

The information was officially published as part of the SGF’s annual Crime & Wellbeing Seminar which is being held in Hampden on 14 March.

The report has also highlighted that 100% of stores agreed that shoplifting has increased in the past year and a staggering 99.5% said that shoplifting had now become a daily occurrence for them.

While the financial burden is inexcusable, the mental strain this has been having on many convenience retail staff members across the county cannot be underestimated either.

The report has highlighted that more than nine out of every 10 stores reported violence against their staff happens at least once per week and a hate crime occurs once every month.

Over half (56.9%) also noted they experienced daily incidents of abuse in regard to refusing a sale or when asked for proof of age.

Concern for this may only build as well with the incoming rise in prices for alcohol products due to MUP as well as the proposed generational ban on tobacco products put forward by the UK Government.

Cheema said: “Sadly, these incidents and many other even more distressing and harrowing cases of shop theft, abuse, threatening behaviour and violence are now commonplace in stores right across Scotland.

“Our annual survey of Scottish convenience stores shows just how bad things have become.

“It’s not just the escalating price tag of theft and vandalism that is costing convenience businesses, but harm to the physical health and wellbeing of retailers and staff.

“That trauma is then carried home to people’s families and their local communities.

“That is why we desperately need ministers to take urgent action now. The police and courts can’t cope, and many crimes are going unreported because retailers don’t believe the authorities will respond.

“Offenders know they’re unlikely to face any consequences for their crimes and even if they are arrested, many will spend years awaiting conviction.

“We are urging the Scottish Government to act now, before things get even worse.”