Shoplifting has become retail’s latest trend, and you’re probably paying for it

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readJun 8, 2023

Everything is getting really expensive, so a discount sounds nice. The latest promotion: 100% off.

Of course, that’s too good to be true, and it isn’t true, legally.

However, legality hasn’t been stopping people from the occasional five-finger discount. In 2021 “shrinkage” cost retailers nearly $100 billion, and an estimated 38% comes from in-store theft.

A man hiding an item under his shirt with the intent of stealing it

It appears shoplifting is becoming the latest life hack. Whether people are doing it because self-checkouts make it easy or they’re learning to do it online, retailers are feeling the pain. And now, the legit shoppers seem to be the ones paying the price.

To be clear, I’m not telling anyone to steal, but we can’t ignore reality. More people are finding ways to shave a few dollars off their bills — but I’m not one of them. Whether this is a moral objection or purely fear of punishment… that’s up for debate.

Where are all these sticky fingers coming from?

If you told people shoplifting was on the rise, I doubt they’d be shocked. Why? Because shit’s getting expensive.

In 2022, inflation rose by 6.5%, and that follows a 7% increase in 2021. And everything is impacted from food to clothing to household goods. While unemployment rates have fallen from their pandemic-related peaks, people are still struggling. Sometimes, you need to take some risks to merely put food on the table.

But if you think people are only stealing to survive, you’re gravely mistaken. The problem is coming from a variety of places, and in most cases, it’s not a necessity.

People do it for a thrill

In 2002, when Winona Rider got caught stealing over $4,000 from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverley Hills, people were shocked. If it happened in 2022, she’d be in good company.

Rider’s compulsion to steal would likely be classified as kleptomania, which does have a body of knowledge behind it. Today, in the age of the internet, communities around shoplifting have formed. In some cases, people share tips and tricks, but there are also people helping each other recover. Regardless of…



Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions