Close-up of woman shoplifting makeup.
Close-up of woman shoplifting makeup.

When shoplifting occurs, the economy is negatively affected. According to the National Learning and Resource Center, offenders confess that for each 48 times they shoplifted, they were caught only once and turned over to the police 50 percent of the time. Shoplifting impacts the economy through profit loss, reduced consumer spending, job losses and higher taxes.

The Cost of Shoplifting

When businesses increase prices and add additional security measures in response to losses from shoplifting, consumers pay the final price, compensating for losses associated with shoplifting. Shoplifting negatively impacts the economy if businesses are forced close their doors because of continual losses. A higher tax burden is placed on the consumer to recoup local and state taxes lost.

How Business Pays

When shoplifting occurs, the effect may be detrimental to the profit margin. Shoplifting may compel a store owner to employ security guards, add security cameras, add alarms to high-priced merchandise and create check policies for backpacks and bags. Small-business owners who compensate by raising prices risk losing customers to large retail stores more financially able to absorb lost revenues.

When Teens Shoplift

Peer pressure or simply wanting something they can't afford are two of the reasons why teens choose to shoplift. Apart from the obvious embarrassment of being caught, some businesses prosecute shoplifters to the full extent of the law. Teens who have been previously arrested for shoplifting may end up with a criminal record, which makes it harder to gain employment, get into college or travel between countries.

No-Win Situation

The repercussions from shoplifting affect more than just the offender. The police and courts become overburdened with arrests and convictions. Family members often are burdened financially when they become responsible for a parent or child who has been arrested for shoplifting. According to investigations correspondent Joseph Shapiro, reporting for NPR in 2014, defendants and offenders pay court costs in the United States, which may result in the poor facing longer jail times than those who commit the same crime but have the means to pay.