A new report shows some U.S. cities have been especially hard-hit by organized retail crime.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) — the world’s largest retail trade association, according to its website — recently released its 2023 Retail Security Survey. The report contains insights from 177 retail brands, which accounted for $1.6 trillion of annual retail sales in 2022 and represent more than 97,000 retail locations across the U.S.
Overall, retailers that participated in the survey reported that inventory loss — called shrink — clocked in at an average rate of 1.6 % last year, representing $112.1 billion in losses. That’s up from 1.4% the previous year. The greatest portion of shrink — 65% — came from external theft, including products taken during organized shoplifting incidents.
For the purposes of the 2023 survey, NRF said organized retail crime is defined as theft/fraud activity conducted with the intent to convert illegally obtained merchandise, cash, cargo or cash equivalent for financial gain.
Based on the reported inventory losses, the NRF found that the cities most impacted by retail theft last year were:
- Los Angeles, California
- Oakland/San Francisco, California
- Houston, Texas
- New York City, New York
- Seattle, Washington
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Sacramento, California and Chicago, Illinois (tied)
- Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; and Albuquerque, New Mexico
This is the fifth consecutive year that Los Angeles has topped out the list after overtaking New York City in 2018.
“Retail crime, violence, and theft continue to impact the retail industry at unprecedented levels. The effects of these criminal acts are not isolated to large national brands or large metropolitan cities,” NRF said on its website. “Daily media reports show that no business is immune, and these issues touch retailers of all segments, sizes and locations across the United States.”
The NRF said it “passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive,” and hopes the theft study will provide comprehensive research, development opportunities, and collaborative spaces for members that will enable the innovation of loss and crime control solutions.
Late last year, Congress passed a bill, called the INFORM ACT, that seeks to combat sales of counterfeit goods and dangerous products by compelling online marketplaces to verify different types of information – including bank account, tax ID and contact details – for sellers who make at least 200 unique sales and earn a minimum of $5,000 in a given year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.