UK retailers lost £3.4bn to retail crime, including shoplifting and employee theft, and error last year, the Global Retail Theft Barometer has found.

The research by Checkpoint Systems and Euromonitor International calculated that the losses amounted to 1.2% of retail sales on average. In addition, the cost of the losses to UK shoppers averaged £124.60 per household.

Shoplifting was the largest problem for retailers, as it accounted for 36% of the total loss, however, theft from employees was also a big concern as it made up 33% of the total loss.

Administration or non-crime losses comprised 25% of the total and supplier fraud made up 6% of the total loss incurred.

Food theft increased in the past 12 months, as products such as fresh meat, mature Cheddar cheese and coffee were among the top stolen items.

Checkpoint Systems UK general manager Russell Holland said: “Over the last year, retailers have certainly been making great strides in the fight against retail crime. However, times are still tough for many families across the country hence the increase in theft of high value foodstuff such as fresh meat and cheese.”

UK retailers said increased security methods had helped to keep losses under control. The most popular methods included EAS antennas and security tagging as well as adding alarms to products on display. Theft is such a problem that retailers estimated their future loss prevention investments would increase or remain the same.