The National Retail Federation’s recent annual security survey disclosed a startling rise in retail theft, with losses exceeding $112 billion last year, known as “shrink” in industry jargon. This figure represents 1.6% of total retail sales, a marked increase from the previous year’s 1.4% or $93 billion. Notably, theft is responsible for approximately two-thirds of all retail shrink, with a significant rise in aggressive and violent forms. The survey encompassed around 180 retail brands operating over 97,000 locations nationwide, establishing that no business sector is impervious to this growing threat.
This escalation in thefts has driven retailers to adopt intensified security protocols, encompassing advanced technology, increased security staffing, and in extreme instances, modifying store hours or shuttering locations due to safety concerns. Target, for example, is set to close nine stores in four markets next month attributed to persistent thefts and challenges in maintaining secure operations. About 45% of retailers have curtailed store hours responding to rising retail crimes and violence, and more than half have intensified employee training to manage workplace violence. Public safety is emerging as the predominant concern for retailers, surpassing even substantial financial losses, with a focus on ensuring secure shopping and working environments.
Retailers and law enforcements are urging for robust legislation and enforcement to curb this surge in retail crimes. The National Retail Federation is backing the bipartisan Combating Organized Retail Crime Act aiming to intensify federal actions against organized retail crimes. Additionally, the newly implemented INFORM Consumers Act mandates high-volume online sellers’ identity verification, assisting in curtailing the illegal resale of stolen goods. Retailers emphasize the critical need for reinforced public policies and efficient enforcement to safeguard communities and ensure sustained and secure business operations.
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