Consumers notice rising retail crimes

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, consumers believe retail crimes have increased in their community.

Retailers aren’t the only ones who are concerned about growing retail theft.

More than half (53%) of consumers believe retail crimes such as shoplifting and looting stores have increased in their community since the onset of the pandemic, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation. The number goes up to 57% for consumers who live in suburban areas.

[Read more: Course correction]

The survey comes amid growing evidence of the toll increased retail theft, particularly organized retail crime (ORC), is taking on retailers.  During the current earnings season, retailers across the board, from Target to Dollar Tree, have raised concerns about growing levels of shrink, citing theft and ORC as key drivers of the issue.  Target expects shrink will reduce its profitability this year by more than $500 million year-over year. Locked fragrance cabinets will be in 70% of Ulta Beauty’s stores this year.

Other key findings in the NRF survey are below.

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers are concerned about gang-led shoplifting in their community. This goes up to 75% among consumers who live in urban communities.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of consumers have personally shopped in stores where products were kept in locked cabinets to avoid theft.
  • Seventy-nine percent of consumers believe retail theft impacts the price of goods that they buy. (A Homeland Security Investigations report issued last year said estimates regarding organized retail crime found "the average American family will pay more than $500 annually in additional costs due to the impact,” reported ABC News.)
  • Half (51%) say law enforcement and the courts are too lenient on those who steal from stores.

NRF has spearheaded industry efforts for policy reform on ORC legislation, including the INFORM Act, which was passed in December 2022 and will require online marketplaces to verify the identities of high-volume third-party sellers.

NRF has also launched a grassroots campaign in support of the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, legislation that would equip law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools and resources to effectively address this issue.

[Read more: Giant Food taking precautions to stop theft in stores]

The survey results were released in advance of NRF Protect, where more than 2,000 retail professionals will convene next week in Grapevine, Tex., to examine the loss prevention community’s most prominent issues, including ORC.

The survey of 5,031 U.S. consumers was conducted May 16 – 24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

This story originally appeared on Chain Store Age