The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association has said that 70% of all shops will be victims of shoplifters during the Christmas period.

The Association has warned that rising levels of retail crime, particularly during the busy festive period, has the potential to close some businesses and place others under severe pressure.

From its business crime survey – for which over 1,000 companies are questioned – ISME has determined the direct shoplifting cost to retailers this year will be in excess of €255m, of which 22% will occur at Christmas alone.

This amounts to over €9m every week during the Christmas period.

It estimates that shoplifting alone adds 3% to the price of products.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding has warned retailers to be vigilant and said "organised shoplifters take advantage of crowded stores to blend in while committing their crime".

“Often they move from town to town, targeting small businesses who are particularly exposed at this time of year, due to the extra stock on shelves and the necessity for extra staff who are often inexperienced in this area."

ISME is recommending that retailers take a number of steps to combat the increased level of crime, including liaising with gardaí, ensuring they have adequate security measures in place, and undertaking regular stock controls.