Twenty-five states have enacted laws aimed at cracking down on organized retail theft, and more than 30% of retailers surveyed said crime dipped in those states after the laws took effect, according to a recent NRF survey. Almost 75% of respondents said their companies are devoting more resources to fighting organized retail crime, and NRF is pushing for federal legislation to stem the tide of theft nationwide.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has proposed a bill that would crack down on organized retail theft rings, with increased sentencing guidelines that would result in 21-month jail sentences for people convicted of stealing goods worth $50,000 or more from retailers. The measure would also extend the statute of limitations on retail theft to five years.
The cost of UK retail crime rose to £1.6 billion in 2012, with customer thefts accounting for 83% of the total and 1 in 20 stores reporting robberies, according to a survey from the British Retail Consortium. The report also found that retailers reported fewer crimes to the police, while spending 7% more to protect their employees, stock and customers.
Consumers have quickly become comfortable with using their smartphones for "showrooming," but retailers say they're still struggling to create mobile strategies that work to drive traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores. "If you don't try, you don't know," says David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, parent of Maurices, which last month began texting promotions to passersby who have opted in.
Large U.S. retail chains including Target and Supervalu have ramped up their efforts to fight organized theft rings, which steal an estimated $15 million to $30 million from merchants each year. Target has opened several crime investigation centers, armed with analysts and investigators who search through surveillance video and spreadsheets to track organized theft rings. Merchants say organized theft has been on the rise in recent years, as the Internet makes it easier for thieves to sell their loot -- 90% of retailers said they had been victims of organized retail crime last year, according to an NRF survey.