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The US shoplifting scourge is a lot of hype with little evidence

today 12/07/2023
Retail crime has not significantly increased nationwide in recent years, and even decreased in many areas. A study released last month found that shoplifting reports were 16% higher in the first half of 2023 compared to 2019, but excluding New York City, the number of incidents actually fell by 7%. Overall, shoplifting has followed similar patterns as other types of theft over the past five years and remained below pre-pandemic levels through 2022. The National Retail Federation has retracted a claim about organized retail crime, admitting it was not based on data or research. Major retailers have cited rising theft as a hindrance to profitability, but external theft only accounts for about 36% of overall shrink, similar to pre-pandemic levels. Retail theft is difficult to measure and is not tracked at the federal level. However, shoplifting data tracked by the FBI shows that the number of incidents is lower now compared to five to ten years ago. While there are pockets of increased retail crime in certain cities, the national trend remains relatively flat.
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