The vast majority of shop owners believe retail crime has risen during the recession, according to a study by the British Retail Consortium.
90 per cent of store owners are of the belief that the past 12 months have seen more theft than prior to the recession.
The British Retail Consortium snap-shot crime survey also asked retailers by what percentage they believed theft to have risen by and many hinted that incidents may be up around 20 per cent.
Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said: "Retail crime is not victimless. It unnecessarily forces up costs for retailers and their customers. It also increases staff intimidation.
"Retailers have responded to this recession-driven increase in retail crime by beefing up security to limit the increase in thefts. We expect everyone involved in law enforcement and criminal justice to treat shop crime with the same seriousness. Police must understand the importance of a thriving retail sector to communities and the need to respond promptly to incidents. Repeat offenders and those who threaten our staff must be prosecuted properly.
"As the British Crime Survey noted, over half of respondents thought their local police could not be relied on to deal with minor crimes – which includes retail crime."