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Stores see growing shoplifting waves during the holidays

As retail theft increases nationally, the in-store shopping experience may change.

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Becerra & Cabello duo

May 17th, 2022

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In 2021, shoplifting encounters have become more common as retailers around the country have reported an uptick in theft.

Retailers like Best Buy in Minneapolis, a Home Depot in California, and Nordstrom in San Francisco all said shoplifters are rampant, and they are not doing it alone. In-store theft was committed by both individuals and organized “flash mobs” during the holiday season.

The Washington Post investigated the use of social media to coordinate mass shoplifting in various cities. This issue has only grown through the influence of COVID-19 on online retail, and supply-chain shortages.

The Philadelphia Police Department reported a total of 941 retail thefts from mid-October to mid-November, at the peak of in-store Black Friday sales. In December 2021, there have been 1,534 shoplifting cases so far.

With the city’s climbing crime rate, one might wonder how retailers will reshape the in-store shopping experience for consumers. That’s a question, according to The Wall Street Journal, that has already led to discussions to “​​bolster security.”

Heightening security measures featuring product locks and customer assistance may make in-store shopping feel like a pain, but the direction the nation is heading may require more device installations.

In a study conducted in 2017, researchers interviewed shoplifters to understand their perception of retail security measures and how they react to them. They list the most common measures installed to reduce theft. 

“Retailers commonly use a combination of the following security measures in the hopes of deterring shoplifters: mirrors, closed-circuit television, public viewing monitors, electronic article surveillance, product packaging, and product placement,” the report said. 

Shoplifters enter large and small businesses looking to walk away with the most expensive products, then often attempt to sell those same items online for more or of equal value.

John Dunham & Associates (JDA) in a national study found that an estimate of up to $2.22 trillion of consumer-type products in 2021 could be subject to theft, greatly affecting the U.S. economy.

When shoplifting increases JDA says job loss, lower wages, and businesses closing nationwide are the result.

Retail theft occurs in metropolitan areas just as often as rural states. And with high prices around for the holidays, it is likely that more people feel the need to steal.

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