fivefingerdiscountContent Provided by Michele Prell, CLS New Business Manager

In the last couple weeks of Christmas shopping, my husband and I decided we were going to get our son a LeapPad 3 tablet this year. We went to two stores, and both of them were sold out of the green ones, which left only the pink. I didn’t think my son would appreciate a pink tablet, so we looked online and a third store showed that they had at least one green tablet left.

After a 15 minute drive with a sprint into the store, it was our last hope for the day, I searched through the six boxes that were left on the shelf. Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink…..oh! The last one was the green one we had been looking for! Of course, as I pulled the box out of the back, I noticed it was lighter than the others I had held, and as I turned it around, I saw why. Someone had helped themselves to the last green LeapPad3 that was on the shelf, but left the box. They craftily ripped open the bottom, slid the item out of its packaging, and left the box. Well, bah humbug!

Shoplifting is said to cost the retail industry approximately 16 billion dollars every year. It’s easy to see how, since some of the smaller items that are easy for someone to snag are some of the most expensive. Approximately one in 11 people in our nation have been caught shoplifting. What most of these thieves don’t understand is their actions are costing stores and consumers thousands of dollars.

Retail stores put thousands of dollars into security systems and employees. For instance, there are those annoying tags that cause door alarms to go off. And yet, most people just ignore the alarm anyway because there never seems to be a salesperson around to help. The costs incurred in security prevention, as well as in the loss of goods, causes stores to recoup their losses by increasing the prices of the products they sell.

There are additional costs in the legal ramifications of shoplifting. Between the law enforcement that must come to the stores and handle thieves that have been caught, and the cost of prosecuting someone through court proceedings (which is all funded by tax dollars), it’s the honest consumers that pay the biggest price. We pay our taxes, as well as the increased cost of the products we want to buy. The average family will spend about $300 a year to subsidize the cost of what shoplifters steal.

Unfortunately, approximately 25% of shoplifters are kids. As a parent, that is a call I never want to have: “Hi, Mrs. Prell, could you please come down to your local store, we picked up Johnny trying to steal a pack of gum.” We all encounter difficult times. I remember the days of making a box of Mac & Cheese last for four or five meals. Ramen noodles didn’t taste the best, but it kept me full. I would walk blocks to work or college classes because I didn’t have the money for gas. Granted, I was lucky in that it was just me and I didn’t have to worry about feeding a child. But stealing is never the answer.

In the investment world, it’s easy to get greedy and try to take the “five finger discount.” Making costly mistakes for immediate gain, such as chasing performance, can be detrimental to an investor’s portfolio. On the other hand, just as it’s important for shoppers to remain patient until they can afford the purchase, it’s important for investors to stay invested long term to achieve their goals.

I did find that LeapPad3 I was looking for. I purchased it online and am having it shipped to my office, so it doesn’t become a missing package on my front porch. Tis the season! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.



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