No one knows how to solve the US’ shoplifting problem

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The Future. Even as many companies fall victim to retail theft, their workers believe they could be doing more to safeguard their merchandise… and more importantly, their employees. If companies don’t invest more resources in asset protection, they might have to make up for their losses by cutting staff and employee hours or jacking up prices — which could hurt in-store experiences for workers and customers alike.

Ready, set, steal
The US has a shoplifting problem, and loss prevention is generally the most underfunded department of a company, reports Vox.

  • “Shrink,” the term for missing inventory that may have been damaged, lost, or stolen by workers or customers, jumped from 1.4% in 2021 to 1.6% in 2022, which is an increase from $93.9 billion to $112.1 billion in losses, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • Asset protection — having security at the door, better sales coverage on the floor, and lower employee turnover — costs money that most companies aren’t willing to spend because it doesn’t bring in revenue. It’s another expense.
  • Most workers feel like they’re not paid enough to care about shoplifting anyway. Reporting thefts, doing inventory, restocking, speaking to police, and even going to court all (understandably) drain their time and energy and add to their workload.

Keep calm and keep selling
The jury is still out on how much it would cost retailers to tackle the shoplifting problem and how much money is already being spent to combat theft right now. There’s just no way to estimate the ROI for loss prevention.

“Lock up your whole store and you’ll never lose anything. You’ll also never sell anything,” warned Joshua Jacobson, an asset protection specialist in California, to Vox. “Sales are more important to a company than shopping theft.”

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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