Preventing Shoplifting: Exploring Online Comments to Propose a Model

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Psychology and Marketing

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In recent years, the marketing literature has expended considerable effort to understand and theorize consumer misbehavior. However, scant research theoretically explores shoplifting. This is surprising, as currently, the annual cost of shoplifting is close to $50 billion in the United States. Utilizing a mixed‐methods approach, we conduct two studies. Study 1 is a qualitative content analysis of online consumer discussions with regard to shoplifting. Study 2 is an empirical examination that uses a US national sample of n = 1,001 consumers; it is designed to test specific hypotheses regarding antecedents to consumers’ intentions to shoplift using an interdisciplinary theoretical framework from criminology, psychology, and marketing. The model integrates research from these different disciplines to improve our understanding of shoplifting by offering avenues to tackle it that supersede traditional security measures in retail. The integrated conceptual framework extends the theory of planned behavior and routine activity theory in understanding the behavioral intentions behind shoplifting. The results show that the suitability of shoplifting targets, offender motivation, and the absence of capable guardians affect potential offenders’ attitudes, subjective norms, and confidence in their ability to shoplift, which, in turn, all influence the intention to shoplift. The results contribute to our understanding of shoplifting and provide implications for retail practitioners over and above merely augmenting store security.


Consumer misbehavior; Consumer psychology; Consumer theft; Criminology; Retail theft; Shoplifting; Theory of planned behavior


Behavioral Economics | Criminology | Marketing



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