SHOPLIFTERS will pocket €155,000 worth of goods every hour between now and Christmas.
There has been a surge in thefts of luxury goods including designer clothing, expensive toiletries and toys this year.
"This cost does not take into account the amount spent on security, which adds hundreds of millions on to the cost for retail businesses," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
"It is estimated that shoplifting alone can add up to 3pc to the price of products," he said.
There were also huge indirect costs such as disruption to business, delayed orders, poor staff morale and increased management time to deal with shoplifting incidents.
ISME estimated that over half of all stores across the country would be targeted over the Christmas period. Retailers were twice as likely to be targeted over the festive season than at other times of the year.
There was also a rise in gangs checking out more remote shopping centres in places such as Nenagh and Roscrea, and then sending down a couple of cars to do a quick shoplifting blitz.
"A lot of these people are well known to stores in Dublin so they are turning to more remote outlets where they can go in and out very quickly and hit a load of places," said Mr Fielding.
Their figures were based on an annual crime survey of their members, including retailers.
Alcohol, electronic goods, toiletries, clothes and food were the most common items targeted, with a surge in targeted thefts of luxury brands this year.
Even everyday foodstuffs such as rashers were being taken, said Mr Fielding.
Many criminals see Christmas as the ideal opportunity with large crowds in stores, more stock on shelves and an increase in temporary staff without the experience to identify shoplifters, ISME said.
Shoppers have also been warned to be careful with their handbags, cash and cards.
ISME urged retailers to combat increased crime by good staff training and communications, regular liaison with the gardai, tight stock control and adequate security.
Official statistics for the last two years also show burglary and related offences peaked in the last three months of the year.
A garda press spokesman said they urged people to be vigilant about their home security at this time of year when there was often extra gift items in the house and to beware of bogus callers.