Manitobans are quite concerned about a wave of retail crime and how it might affect them, a new Probe Research survey for the Free Press finds.

Nearly six in ten Manitobans are concerned about witnessing someone shoplifting or seeing a violent encounter between someone stealing and a retail employee. Nearly one-half, meanwhile, are concerned about being physically attacked by someone shoplifting, with this concern highest among those living in Winnipeg, older Manitobans and those earning lower incomes.

graph showing concern about elements of shoplifting

The same proportion (45%) report they avoid shopping at stores that have been hotspots for retail theft, with those living in outer suburban Winnipeg neighbourhoods and Racialized Manitobans most likely to take their businesses to stores they perceive as experiencing thefts less frequently.

graph showing likelihood of avoiding stores where shoplifting occurs

When asked to identify what is driving retail theft, a plurality of Manitobans believe it is due to both people not being able to afford increasingly expensive food items, as well as thieves stealing items so they can be re-sold later. One-quarter attribute theft exclusively to resale, with the same proportion believing it stems entirely from the inability to pay for these items.

Strong majorities of Manitobans support measures that may decrease theft in retail stores, with nearly eight in ten agreeing that private security guards should be given more power to stop thieves and nearly three-quarters advocating for retailers being required to ensure all their employees take special training on how to de-escalate situations with shoplifters. Two-thirds also support introducing a form of “danger pay” for retail workers that would require their employers to offer higher wages to reflect the level of risk they face from potential shoplifters.

graph showing support for measures to stop shoplifting

About the Probe Research Omnibus

For more than two decades, Probe Research has undertaken quarterly omnibus surveys of random and representative samples of Manitoba adults. These scientific telephone surveys have provided strategic and proprietary insights to hundreds of public, private and not-for-profit clients on a range of social, cultural and public policy topics. The Probe Research Omnibus Survey is the province’s largest and most trusted general population survey.

Disclosure Statement

Probe Research is a member of the Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC) and confirms that this research fully complies with all CRIC Standards including the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements. Learn more at:


Probe Research surveyed a random and representative sampling of 1,000 adults residing in Manitoba between May 28 and June 9, 2024.

With a sample of 1,000, one can say with 95 per cent certainty that the results are within ± 3.1 percentage points of what they would have been if the entire adult population of Manitoba had been surveyed. The margin of error is higher within each of the survey’s population sub-groups.​

The sample consists of 488 Manitobans randomly recruited via live-agent operator, 305 randomly recruited via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and 207 members of Probe Research’s online panel. All respondents completed the survey on an online platform. 

Modified random digit dialing, including both landline and wireless numbers, ensured all Manitoba adults had an equal opportunity to participate in this Probe Research survey. 

Minor statistical weighting has been applied to this sample so that age, gender and regional characteristics properly reflect the province’s population. All data analysis was performed using SPSS statistical analysis software.