Retailers should prepare for a marked increase in shoplifting activity during the 2001 Holiday season and into 2002 say two reports commissioned by a shoplifting expert.

The cautionary note from Checkpoint Systems Inc, a leading provider of supply chain management and security solutions worldwide, is based on the results of two recently-commissioned studies.

A Holiday 2001 shoplifting activity analysis by shoplifting authority and clinical psychologist Will Cupchik PhD, and a separate analysis of inventory shrinkage for 2002, conducted by global retail market research and consulting firm Retail Forward Inc, indicate a sharp rise in shoplifting activity, beginning this holiday season and extending into 2002.

"While retailers are aware that shoplifting generally increases around the holidays, the economic and social landscape for this holiday season, and the coming year, are unlike any that we have seen for decades, perhaps ever,'' said Dave Shoemaker, group strategic vice president, Checkpoint Systems.

"Dr Cupchik's professional insight into the shoplifting behaviour he anticipates for the 2001 Holiday season, and the findings from the Retail Forward study, will go a long way to help retailers understand why they should take the steps necessary to safeguard their merchandise.''

Dr Cupchik's analysis cites trauma related to the events of September 11th, stress and financial pressures due to the ailing economy, and widespread unemployment as leading factors driving the anticipated increase.

Retail Forward, on the other hand, forecasts that the current economic downturn will increase inventory shrinkage from shoplifting by $1 billion in 2002. The report illustrates that in contrast to the slow growth in shoplifting that coincided with the economic boom of the 1990s, the current depressed economic climate will lead to a pronounced rise in shoplifting.