The retail sector is showing signs of recovery after a relatively flat year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) trade figures released Thursday have revealed a 0.3 per cent increase in June to $26.15 billion seasonally adjusted.

Retail sales have now risen for three consecutive months, with June’s higher than the market expectations of 0.2 per cent, which is great news for retailers, particularly those in the hospitality sector as consumers continue flocking to cafes, restaurants and take away food outlets.

On a less positive note, despite the nation’s strong anti-fraud tools, a new report from the Australian Payments Network has suggested online credit card fraud has doubled in just six years, reaching a staggering $534 million, out of the total (and record high) $714.5 billion worth of card transactions in 2016!

It found the rate has increased from 66.9 centres in 2015 to 74.7 cents in 2016 for every $1000 spent, with ‘card not present’ fraud netting cyber fraudsters a whopping $417.6 million.

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated – with the report finding a 13 per cent increase in the use of fake terminals not connected to a payment network, that look the same, but skim consumers’ card details.

Retailers and banks are constantly exposed to techniques like these and more, particularly on the back of the Reserve Bank’s study released last month, suggesting card has overtaken cash payments in Australia for the first time. 

While we’re a long way from the UK and US fraud rates, as Australians move toward even higher levels of online payments, it’s expected the level of card fraud will also continue to climb.

On a brighter note – our counterfeit and skimming fraud is also still relatively low by international standards, however it’s clear both retailers and consumers need to be hyper vigilant about their security measures.

In-store issues like shoplifting and employee theft are still underreported, so while we don’t know for sure how much it actually costs retailers each year, we do know it’s a loss retailers struggle to absorb, and can substantially affect profitability. Unfortunately, the items retailers benefit most from having on display, are also the items most tempting to thieves, so we do encourage all our members to develop and implement an overall loss prevention strategy to try and counteract some of these issues.

We’ve been working on some new technologies to support retailers, and I’d like to encourage all our members who are looking for some additional guidance on this issue to get it touch with David Stout via d.stout@nra.net.au.

Have a great week. 

Dominique Lamb, CEO.