The cost of retail crime has risen and violent incidents are on the up.

The total direct cost of retail crime was £700m in the past year – an increase of 6% – the BRC’s annual survey showed.

The rate of incidents of violence with injury doubled year on year to six per 1,000 members of staff.

Retailers surveyed reported that career criminals are deliberately using violence when challenged over theft and that staff members’ attempts to check shoppers’ ages and refuse sales were increasingly prompting violence and threats.

Theft by shoppers was the biggest contributor to the cost of crime.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retail already faces its own challenges, with margins shrinking, and against that backdrop the pressures that retail crime exerts are having a stronger impact.

“That is why we are working to build a new model for co-operation around tackling retail crime, and encourage decision-makers throughout the country to apply the priority these issues deserve.

“In particular, the figures on violence present a deeply concerning picture. Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, and our members are completely clear that keeping their staff safe and providing an environment in which they can work free of fear from threats and violence is their first priority.

“Retailers are doing everything possible to ensure that staff members and customers are safe and protected. But they are now spending record amounts on crime prevention, which is a drag on the economic viability of shops and not infinitely sustainable.”