I suspect that theft is a huge drag on our economy. We all pay more because some people don’t pay at all. At a certain point, retailers that effectively curb shoplifting (think Costco and Amazon?) will have such a price advantage that traditional retailers will lose business. Until then, I think stores do an analysis – weighing the cost of shoplifting against the cost of enforcement and behaving accordingly.
Shoplifting does appear rampant. I remember shopping at Rite Aid a while back and the checker commented that they had several bottles of expensive premium booze stolen earlier that day. At $40 or $50 per bottle that really sends prices up for the rest of us.