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Retailers are overstating the impact of theft, report says

today 10/28/2023
Some experts argue that retailers, including Target, are exaggerating the impact of shoplifting. They believe that retailers are using the issue of theft as a distraction from other problems affecting their business, such as weak demand and mismanagement. Retail analysts and researchers point out that the reported increase in theft rates does not align with the actions and statements made by retailers. While theft is indeed impacting retailers more than before the pandemic, it is just one of many challenges they are facing, including the shift to online shopping and over-expansion of physical stores. These analysts also suggest that retailers may be drawing attention away from other issues, such as lower profit margins and poor inventory planning. The overall loss from theft, known as shrink, makes up only a small percentage of retailers' sales and has remained relatively steady over the years. However, some retailers are labeling theft, especially organized retail crime, as a national crisis. They are calling for a stronger response from law enforcement and stricter punishments for offenders. Target's recent store closures have been attributed to theft and organized retail crime, but there are questions about the validity of this rationale based on local crime statistics. The analysts at William Blair suggest that Target and other retailers may be using the narrative of shrink to address other underperforming areas of their business and improve overall margins. Target has not provided specific data regarding their store closures, but they claim that organized retail crime and violent theft incidents have increased in their stores.
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