Razor blade shoplifting still a retail epidemic

Razor blade

Believe it or not, razor blade shoplifting is a large problem, as popular but expensive cartridge razors, especially the Gillette Mach 3, are targets for thieves. Photo Credit: Thermos/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

One of the most frequently shoplifted items is something that might surprise you. One might think thieves would go after alcohol, which they do, but it turns out that razor blade shoplifting is one of the more common thefts in retail.

Razor blade shoplifting a going concern for some time

Are beards really that bad? They were once fashionable. However, many men must shave as a condition of employment. Some people just like to keep a cleanly-shaven face. Some shave their entire heads. Women shave as well, though they don’t have facial hair to shave.

Usually, anyway.

Shaving is also expensive. Alongside shaving cream or gel, there is the cost of the razor to begin with. Some people stick with the cheapest disposables, though they don’t shave the best and others use electric razors. However, the most popular are multi-blade cartridges, such as the Shick Quattro and Gillette Mach 3. They are also the most expensive.

As a result, razor blade shoplifting has become a problem. A big one. In fact, according to a 2003 article in The Telegraph, Gillette Mach 3 razor cartridges were declared the most shoplifted item in the world.

Trend continues

Razor blade shoplifting has continued to be a going concern. The 2008 Global Theft Barometer Report by the Center for Retail Research, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, found razor cartridges were the most shoplifted item worldwide. Metro.com reported in 2011 that “Gillette Mach Four” razors and cartridges accounted for 2.7 percent of all shoplifting alone, and Forbes reported earlier this year that razor blades are the fifth-most shoplifted item in the U.S.

Granted, they meant the Gillette Mach 3; the Mach 4 doesn’t exist. Gillette’s other multi-blade cartridge, the Fusion, has five blades.

A recent video on USA Today also highlights the problem of razor blade shoplifting, reporting theft of razor cartridges is still a large problem in retail stores, with multi-blade cartridges such as the Gillette Mach 3 and Shick Quattro being the most popular targets.

A number of incidents of razor blade thefts have become news items lately. According to a press release by the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Department in Florida, a shoplifting ring was caught in September stealing $2,500 in razor blades and electric razors from a Target in Tampa, Fla. A man in Wentzville, Missouri, according to the Wentzville Patch, was caught the same month after stealing $4,100 of razor blades from area stores.

Maybe it is time to switch

Part of the reason why razor blade shoplifting is such a problem, and also why multi-blade cartridges are such popular targets, is because they are so expensive. Just like Nike sneakers, they are popular and expensive, ergo, people want them and will steal them. Gillette, according to a 2009 article the Daily Mail, is said to make each Mach 3 cartridge for 5 pence, but sells them for 2.43 pounds (about $3.93) each, a 4,750 percent markup.

One solution could be switching to a double-edge safety razor. Purchasing a high-quality razor is initially expensive, but blades are cheap. A pack of 10 high-quality blades, such as Feather or Merkur blades, can often be had for $10 or less, with each blade lasting about a week in most cases. There’s also the Dollar Shave Club.


USA Today

The Telegraph


Metro.com: http://www.metro.us/boston/life/article/1045312–the-top-10-most-shoplifted-items-of-the-holiday-season

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjcolao/2012/04/03/dollar-shave-club-breaking-the-razor-blade-monopoly/

Hillsborough Sheriffs Department: http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/About-HCSO/Press-Releases/Releases/2012/September/12-357.aspx

Wentzville Patch: http://wentzville.patch.com/articles/nicked-man-steals-hundreds-of-razor-blades-valued-at-4-100-police-say

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1191456/Sharp-practice-The-razor-heads-cost-just-5p-make-sell-2-43-each.html

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