The US Chamber of Commerce is asking Congress to take action against the rise in organized retail theft – saying the problem has become a nationwide emergency, hurting businesses and contributing to higher prices for consumers.
Company representatives set out their concerns this week in a letter to Congressthe National Governors Association and other policymakers – noting a survey in which 54% of small business owners said they experienced an increase in shoplifting in 2021.
Retailers, already struggling to rebuild their businesses and attract customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “are now faced with large-scale theft and looting, much of which is organized crime-related,” said Neil Bradley, Chief of the US Chamber of Commerce political officer, said in a statement attached to the letter.
“Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve,” Bradley added. “We urge policymakers to address this issue head-on before it spirals further out of control. No business should have to close because of theft.”
New York and other major cities across the country have seen a surge in organized retail theft during the pandemic.
The average large retailer lost $700,000 per $1 billion in sales as of 2020 — an increase of more than 50% over five years, according to the National Retail Federation.
The Chamber of Commerce called on federal and state legislators to take concrete steps to resolve the issue.
Proposed steps include passing bipartisan legislation aimed at cracking down on the sale of stolen goods on online marketplaces; an expansion of the legal definition and consequent criminal penalties for “organized retail theft” and a lower threshold for the value of stolen goods that would trigger criminal charges.
“These crimes are not victimless. In addition to the growing number of thefts turning violent, the costs of increasing retail theft are being borne by innocent consumers, employees, local communities, business owners and shareholders,” added the chamber’s letter to Congress.
Some critics have argued that relaxed penalties for shoplifting in some states have contributed to the problem.
Several major retailers have made public statements about a rise in organized retail crime in recent months. As the Post reported in November, the incidents became increasingly organized and violent.
Late last year, Best Buy’s CEO noted the toll the incidents were taking on the company’s employees.
“We’re seeing more and more, particularly organized retail crime,” said Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy. “You can see this pressure in our finances. And more importantly, frankly, you can see that pressure on our people. It’s traumatizing.”
https://nypost.com/2022/03/31/retail-theft-a-national-crisis-congress-must-address-chamber-of-commerce-says/ Retail theft a “national crisis” that Congress needs to address, Chamber of Commerce says