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Survey: Retail shrink leads to $57 billion loss

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — Shrinkage levels average 1.27% of sales, which translates to a $57 billion loss to the industry, according to the U.S. Retail Fraud Survey, which is based on research into the systems and strategies used by 100 leading North American retailers.

The biggest area of store loss remains employee theft (38% of shrink), up 3% from last year, according to the study, published by U.K. based Retail Knowledge and sponsored by Volumatic and Kount. It is followed by cash theft (24%), up 20% from last year, administration and book keeping errors (21%), down 9%, and shoplifting (11%), down 15%. The biggest area of online loss is fraudulent use of credit cards (59% of shrink).

In other survey highlights:
 

• Return fraud is costing retailers an average of 0.25% of sales this year, compared with an average of 0.4% last year.

• With regards to loss prevention departments, on average, each member of the fraud prevention team is responsible for $103 million of sales.

• Guards are used by 31% of all retailers, but never in all of their stores. The highest use of guards (9%) is used in less than 5% of stores and 45% of retailers do not use them in any of their stores.

• Most retailers manage store and online loss prevention separately.

• Retailers’investment in store-based and online fraud prevention is beginning to even up. Store fraud prevention spend has fallen from 0.6% of sales last year to 0.5% this year; online fraud prevention spend has increased from 0.2% of sales last year to 0.34% this year.

• Shrinkage rates vary by retail sector, with discount stores on the high end, at 2.5% of sales, and specialty retailers on the low end, at 0.7% of sales.

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Ralphs pharmacies offer pertussis shots as epidemic sweeps through California

BY Antoinette Alexander

LOS ANGELES — Ralphs Grocery Co. has announced that its 85 in-store pharmacies throughout Southern California continue to offer Tdap vaccinations as the number of pertussis cases, also known as whooping cough, reaches epidemic proportions in California.

The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccination is available every day and no prescription or appointment is necessary. Ralphs pharmacists can vaccinate anyone 9 years old or older, including pregnant women. Tdap vaccinations at Ralphs Pharmacies are covered by most insurance plans.

"A Tdap shot administered at a Ralphs Pharmacy is a convenient, affordable option," stated Rebecca Cupp, director of pharmacy for Ralphs. "Our Tdap vaccination program is yet another way that Ralphs is helping our customers with easy, accessible and affordable health services — particularly when they need it most. Customers can rely on our team of expert Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians to provide professional counsel and caring service in a convenient, friendly environment."

According to the California Department of Public Health, prevention through vaccination is the best way to ward off pertussis. The CDPH recommends Tdap vaccinations for pregnant women in the third trimester of each pregnancy, regardless of previous Tdap vaccination. Older children, pre-adolescents and adults should also be vaccinated against pertussis according to CDPH recommendations.

The symptoms of pertussis vary by age. For children, pertussis typically starts with a cough and runny nose that can last up to two weeks. The cough then worsens and turns into rapid coughing spells that end with a "whooping" sound. Young infants may not have typical pertussis symptoms and may have no apparent cough. Parents describe episodes in which the infant's face turns red or purple. For adults, pertussis may simply be a cough that lasts for several weeks.

Ralphs Grocery was founded in 1873 and currently operates 228 supermarkets from its headquarters in Los Angeles.
 

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Study: Consumers want control of healthcare decisions but keep it neutral on costs

BY Antoinette Alexander

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — According to a new study, 9-out-of-10 consumers prefer to be in control of medical decisions or participate in shared decision-making with their doctors. Evidence, however, suggests that the cost of care does not typically play a part in these discussions.

These results, and more, are part of the spring 2014 Altarum Institute Survey of Consumer Health Care Opinions, the sixth semiannual survey conducted by Altarum’s Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care. The surveys collect information on consumer beliefs and preferences about health care.

“We can’t assume that one size fits all for consumers — there remain wide variations in skills, attitudes, and behaviors that individuals bring to the health care system,” stated Wendy Lynch, director of CCCHC and the study’s author. “This survey reminds us that many consumers desire an active role in health decisions, but few know how to participate, take action, ask questions, or seek information. Tailoring the right support to the right person will be critical for patient-centered care.”

The study found that, while more than 80% reported that they would feel comfortable talking with their doctors about costs, significantly fewer, around 50%, have ever done so. This gap may be attributed to a lack of confidence, as only one-third of consumers believe they have the ability to shop for better health care prices.

Among other things, the surveys look at consumers’ preferred role in health care decisions, their sources of information about health, factors they consider important in selecting providers, and other perceptions about the quality and cost of health care. Respondents include a national sample of 2,099 adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

In addition to collecting information about the consumer’s role in his or her medical decision making, the surveys collect data on a person’s experience with their own medical illnesses, including home-care and faith-based responses. The surveys also ask about their experience with medical errors, which injure or kill millions of people each year.

Finally, the most recent study found high predictability for those who took the new Altarum Consumer Engagement Measure, created by CCCHC. Altarum recently launched this measure to assess levels of consumers’ health engagement. Consumers with high ACE scores were more likely to look up health-related information and ask questions during health care visits. Conversely, consumers with low ACE scores were more likely to go to the doctor later than they should have. CCCHC researchers are looking at how these scores correlate with consumers’ experience with discussing costs.
 

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