Shoplifters Steal $95 Million From Stores

Shoplifting has existed as long as there have been retail outlets. This activity ranges from people who steal one of two small items to organized criminals who steal hundreds of items at once. The severity of the problem has increased to the point where the amount stolen reached a value of $95.3 billion in 2021. That was up from $90.8 billion in 2020.

The figure might have been higher in 2020 if the pandemic had not reduced foot traffic at retail outlets. As more and more have reopened, the chances to steal from retailers have risen.

Organized crime is blamed for many of the thefts. According to The National Retail Federation, “In fact, retailers, on average, saw a 26.5% increase in ORC (organized retail crime) incidents in 2021.” Much of this included violence, which is also on the rise.

In the NFR “2022 Retail Security Survey: The State of National Retail Security and Organized Retail Crime,” the costs of shoplifting are not just the cost of goods. Many retailers have had to add to their security measures, which can be expensive.

Retailers blame the government, among other things, for the increase. They argue if penalties for shoplifting were higher, there would be fewer thefts. Of course, that is just a theory. Penalties would have to be increased substantially across most of the nation to prove that it is true.

Several retailer theft costs are outside physical stores. Eight percent are done at some point in the supply chain. Fifty-three percent of thefts are done across e-commerce platforms. Twenty-three percent are done during cargo shipping.

Over a third of retailers have increased the cost of protecting against theft. Since margins at retailer companies are notoriously small and often in the single digits, these costs can badly cripple those operations financially.

For retailers, the depressing conclusion of the report is that shoplifting problems will not improve without substantial investments in security. Most retailers do not have money for this unless they want to see profits erode.

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