In a recent report by the National Retail Federation (NRF), a prominent trade group representing U.S. retailers, alarming trends in organized retail crime are unveiled. Major cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston are witnessing a significant uptick in retail inventory theft, resulting in substantial financial losses for retailers.

This surge in retail crime has raised concerns among retail giants, including Target and Kroger, as well as dollar stores. They warn that the problem could exacerbate the challenges posed by weakening consumer demand in the current year.

According to the NRF’s latest report released on Tuesday, in 2022, inventory «shrinkage» as a percentage of total retail sales amounted to a staggering $112.1 billion in losses, compared to $93.9 billion in 2021.

David Johnston, NRF Vice President for Asset Protection and Retail Operations, underscores the severity of the situation, stating, «Retailers are grappling with unprecedented levels of theft and a surge in in-store crime, and the situation is growing increasingly dire.»

To address the growing menace of retail crime, retailers are adopting various measures. These include store closures, adjustments to operating hours, and modifications to in-store product offerings.

For example, Dollar Tree has announced plans to remove high-theft items like men’s underwear from its store shelves.

Retailers are also intensifying their efforts in crime prevention. According to the NRF report, 34% of respondents are increasing internal payroll to enhance security against retail crime. Additionally, 46% are bolstering security by employing third-party security personnel and implementing various other preventive measures.

This surge in retail crime is not limited to the United States. Even in Britain, incidents of shoplifting are on the rise. In response, fashion chain Primark is ramping up security measures. This includes hiring additional security guards, installing advanced CCTV systems, and equipping staff with body cameras to combat in-store theft.

Walmart, a retail behemoth, is also taking proactive measures to combat retail crime. During a post-earnings call with Telsey Advisory Group, Walmart CFO John Rainey revealed that the company is deploying armed guards in select stores located in urban areas.

The NRF’s survey, based on insights from 177 retail brands, underscores the pressing need for robust security measures in the retail industry.

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