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Pandemic Leads to Increase in US Retail Losses: NRF

Sep 19, 2022 6:02 AM   By Leah Meirovich
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Covid-19 has exacerbated US retail theft, leading to a higher rate of loss and more violent crimes within stores, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Retail shrink — the difference between a store’s recorded merchandise and the results of a physical inventory count — accounted for $94.5 billion in overall industry losses in 2021, compared to $90.8 billion the year before, the NRF said last week.

Of those surveyed, 87% said the pandemic resulted in an overall risk for their business, with 89% of those citing an increase in violence. Some 73% noted it led to a rise in shoplifting, while 71% reported their stores were affected by higher organized retail crime and employee theft. Meanwhile, the level of organized retail crime grew 26.5% on average, respondents claimed.

“The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Mathews, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis. “These highly sophisticated criminal rings jeopardize employee and customer safety and disrupt store operations. Retailers are bolstering security efforts to counteract these increasingly dangerous criminal activities.”

Jewelry is among the most commonly targeted items, along with apparel, health and beauty products, and electronics, given they are concealable, valuable and easily disposable, the federation explained. E-commerce fraud has also risen, according to a majority of the retailers surveyed.

Nearly all of the retailers surveyed operate at least one brick-and-mortar store, the NRF added. Some 8% of respondents were from the jewelry, watches and accessories sector.

Image: A woman shoplifting jewelry from a store. (Shutterstock)
Tags: COVID-19, Jewelry, Leah Meirovich, Mark Mathews, National Retail Federation, NRF, Retail shrink
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