Retail crime has hit an all-time high as stores report more than $112 billion in losses. The rampant stealing has caused retailers to beef up security and turn to other drastic anti-theft measures in order to try to stop thieves. The 2023 National Retail Security Survey found that theft-related losses increased from $93.9 billion in 2021 to $112.1 billion in 2022.
“Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire,” NRF Vice President for Asset Protection and Retail Operations David Johnston said.
“Far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category.”
The survey found that the shrink rate in the 2022 financial year hit 1.6 percent, up from 1.4 percent in 2021. Theft accounted for almost two-thirds of retailers’ shrink.
Shrink rate is a measure of inventory loss based on factors such as employee error and shoplifting. It is the difference between optimal sales and actual sales.
Retailers told NRF that organized retail crime remained their biggest concern with 67 percent saying that they saw an increased level of organized crime than in previous years.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York, and Seattle were determined to be the top five locations hit hardest by organized retail theft. Even with increased funding in loss prevention, 28 percent of retailers reported having to close stores in certain locations.
Another 45 percent of retailers said they cut the number of hours they’re open to combat theft, while 30 percent reduced or altered their in-store product selection.
“Retailers are piloting and implementing a number of loss prevention practices to deter, prevent, and mitigate these substantial losses,” Loss Prevention Research Council Director Read Hayes said.
“In addition to enhancing traditional security measures, many are also allocating resources to innovative emerging technologies for future prevention.”
Many retail companies have been transparent about their losses and pointed the finger at theft as the main culprit. “Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said on a conference call.
“Shrink remains consistent with our expectations but well above the sustainable level where we expect to operate over time, and unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”