Compensated for shoplifting?
Q I've been the victim of several shoplifting incidents and often the culprits are not punished by the courts. How do I go about claiming compensation from the thieves?
A The first thing to say is that, however frustrated you may be with the response of the criminal justice system to shoplifting in your store, you should continue to work with police and always report incidents to them - backed up where possible with CCTV images.
But it's also possible to use a civil recovery scheme to reclaim the money you lose when a shoplifter gets away with your stock. The British Retail Consortium has a scheme for its members which has been operating successfully since 1998.
Procedures have been agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service for how civil recovery should work - which is why independents and non-BRC members should always seek advice from their local police.
According to the Centre for Retail Research, "the most likely amount demanded from a customer thief is between £85 and £150".
It adds: "Only about 10% of people apprehended for shop theft are ever charged and appear in court. Little happens to the others, although many are cautioned. The new penalty notices for disturbance involve no criminal record.
"Stealing from shops is therefore a low-risk, low-cost crime which generally receives little if any criminal penalty. This provides little deterrent to curb shop theft. A major argument in favour of retail civil recovery is that it provides some form of sanction against people who steal from shops, thus reinforcing the fact that shop theft is morally wrong."
It explains that the UK National Civil Recovery Programme has been administered by Retail Loss Prevention (lossprevention.co.uk) since 1998. It handles more than 65,000 cases every year and represents most retailers.
CRR calculates that in the UK, theft and other crimes against shops cost more than £3 billion a year and a further £979 million is spent by retailers on security. Although 450,000 shop thieves were apprehended in 2005, fewer than 65,000 appeared before the courts.
Q Is beer discounting really more prevalent now than in previous years? Or does it just seem that way?
A Believe it or not, there are actually fewer promotions than in 2007 - though that's not the same thing as saying that prices are higher. In fact some might argue that, with beer regularly being sold at low prices, the need for promotions has lessened.
Assosia, an agency which monitors retail pricing and pro motions, calculated the number of beer promotions has fallen from 2,089 to 1,704. Wine promotions are more prevalent, at 2,550, though this may simply reflect the number of SKUs in the marketplace.
The most promoted brand, according to Assosia, is Stella Artois, followed by Hardys Crest and Carlsberg. The league table a year ago was led by Carlsberg, followed by Stella Artois and then Gallo.
Sectors which have seen a big increase in promotional activity include cider and RTDs.