Retailers in the U.S. are expected to lose $8.9 billion over the holiday season, mid-November through Christmas, as a result of shoplifting, dishonest employees and vendor or distribution losses, according to a new study released today by the Centre for Retail Research. The report, funded by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, suggests that the losses incurred by the retail industry over this period could add an extra $98 to each family shopping bill.

The report found that American retailers could lose $3.8 billion through shoplifting, $4.7 billion through employee theft, and $400 million through vendor and distribution losses.

In total, the losses could represent a four percent increase over the same period last year. The primary contributors to retail crime are employee theft at 53 percent and shoplifting at 42 percent.

Speaking about the results, Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the report, says, The Christmas season is an especially attractive time for criminals. Thieves take advantage of busy stores to steal high-value, high-demand goods. As a result, retailers face a big threat from professional and semi-professional thieves, many of whom steal goods with the intention of re-selling them. Organized retail crime is a major concern for retailers, especially since the average amount stolen per incident is much higher than typical thefts.

The Shoplifting for Christmas 2012 report also revealed the product categories most likely to be stolen over the Christmas period, which include 1 alcohol, 2 women's clothing and fashion accessories, 3 toys, 4 perfume and health and beauty gift packs, 5 electronic devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, toiletries for men, 6 DVD gift sets and game consoles, 7 food and Christmas decorations, 8 electrical goods including hardware, DIY, 9 watches and jewelry, and 10 chocolates and confectionery.

Per Levin, president and chief sales officer for shrink management and merchandise visibility solutions for Checkpoint Systems, says, During Christmas, consumers spend 60 percent more than in other months, and retailers need to ensure the merchandise is available on the shelves for consumers to buy. We know from Professor Bamfield past studies that there is a clear correlation between investments in preventive solutions and the rate of shoplifting. With the right solutions in store, it is possible to reduce the threat of further losses, increase merchandise availability and reap the maximum returns during holiday season.