Paul Owens, 36, was jailed for more than six years after over the attack on the officer in Leeds city centre.
Leeds Crown Court heard the officer suffered permanent scarring to his chin after Owens used a Swiss army knife to carry out the attack.
Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting, said the officer was shopping in the store on November 25 last year when he saw Owens crouching down in an aisle as he hid Playstation games in his clothing.
The officer then grabbed Owens by the collar and told him he was under arrest.
The prosecutor said Owens said: “You are not a copper.”
The officer then showed Owens his warrant card and the defendant replied: “I will stab you.”
Owens used the knife to inflict wounds to his face and neck area. He broke free and ran up an escalator.
The officer chased Owens and managed to detain him with the help of another man.
The officer needed four stitches to a wound to his chin. He also suffered abrasions to his neck area and bruises to his body.
Mr Greenhalgh said: “Another centimetre or so in another direction could have resulted in a much more serious or fatal injury and that causes much anxiety as far as he is concerned.”
Owens pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to resist arrest, attempted theft and possession of an offensive weapon.
The court heard Owens has 77 previous convictions for 133 offences, many of them for shoplifting.
Michael Walsh, mitigating, said: “The police officer was acting as a good citizen and this defendant was acting inappropriately.
“Although it may seem a little hollow at this stage, he would wish to extend his remorse and apologise to the officer.
“His actions were extremely foolish.”
Mr Walsh said Owens had been carrying the knife in order to cut security tags off items he intended to steal.
Owens was jailed for six years, 143 days.
Judge Sally Cahill, QC, said: “There was concerted attempt by you to attack the off-duty police officer’s face and neck area.
“It is purely fortuitous that you are not facing a more serious charge.”
Judge Cahill also commended the officer for his “extremely brave” actions during the incident.