As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Target has long been a staple in communities across the country. However, recent years have seen a sharp rise in organized retail theft, and the consequences have been devastating. Despite the best efforts of Target’s security teams, criminals are finding ways to steal merchandise in ever-increasing quantities, which has forced Target’s CEO to announce a massive loss of $500 million .
According to a recent report, retailers saw a 26.5% increase in organized retail theft in 2021. This trend is not new and has been steadily growing over the years. In fact, the cost of organized crime to retailers has increased by 50% compared to 2015. Organized retail theft has become a significant threat to retailers across the United States, with Target being just one of many companies that have fallen victim to these crimes.
Organized crime networks are stealing key items in bulk to resell on online market platforms at a cheaper price. The problem has become so severe that Target employees in downtown San Francisco witness ten thefts per day. It’s not just losses for retailers, but also safety concerns for guests and team members. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), eight out of ten retailers reported an increase in violent incidents during organized retail thefts.
In response to these crimes, Target has put many of its product shelves in locked display cases. However, the majority of retailers do not have organized retail crime teams in place to combat these crimes. According to a survey, 68.5% of retailers do not have an organized retail crime team in place.
But there is hope for change. Earlier this year, Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023. The legislation aims to strengthen penalties for organized retail crime and provide law enforcement with additional resources to combat these crimes. The bill would also establish a national database of organized retail crime incidents to better track and prevent these crimes.
The rise of self-checkout systems has also contributed to the surge in organized retail theft. Experts warn that if self-checkout accounted for 50% of transactions, losses would be 77% higher than average. The NRF reports that external theft, including organized retail crime, accounts for 37% of shrinkage.
It’s not just Target facing the issue, but the entire retail industry. Retailers must take action to combat organized retail theft and prevent further losses. It’s time for retailers to implement better security measures and work with law enforcement to reduce these crimes.
Target’s projected $500 million loss due to organized retail theft is just the beginning of a trend that is causing significant financial losses for the retail industry as a whole. Either stores need to move out of these dangerous locations or enact stricter security to protect their store. However, they seem to be doing none of those things, further emboldening new people to take advantage of their stores. Something dramatic must change if this problem is to be curbed.
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