Theft is a common problem across all sectors of retail. It’s a frequent industry practice to consistently track shrink and improve loss prevention policies. However, prevailing labor shortages have left stores more vulnerable to theft than ever before simply because the lack of manpower leaves more of a gap for thieves to swipe their loot. According to CNN, Best Buy is facing an alarmingly high percentage of theft and the widespread incidents are leaving their employees shaking with fear.
In a recent call with company analysts, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry expressed his concerns over how the rampant incidents of theft are affecting Best Buy employees. “This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable,” Barry said on the call. Barry expressed that Best Buy is beginning to implement strategies to keep both their employees and their products safer. One strategy that was instituted company-wide is to lock up higher value items like computers and sound systems to eliminate potential thieves from having unsupervised access to the products.
However, additional approaches will likely need to be put in place in order to make a real difference in counteracting the issue. One of the common tactics that thieves are using, according to ABC News, involves a large group of people essentially storming the store and collectively clearing off entire shelves of items and walking out with them. What’s even scarier is that many of the reported incidents, especially recently, involve weapons. Employees have said that thieves have come in with guns and even crowbars.
Best Buy’s CEO expressed in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday that the increase in theft is not only affecting its current employees but that he is concerned that it is also having an impact on the company’s ability to hire new ones. Nobody wants to work in a place where they don’t feel safe and secure. He also pointed out that the uptick in thievery is digging into Best Buy’s potential profits, which in an industry that is already afflicted with extreme supply constraints, is a potentially ominous realization.
Best Buy’s situation is not unique to it. The retail industry as a whole is experiencing this concerning trend. A survey done in 2020 by the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed that that organized retail theft has risen by more than half since 2015, increasing by a staggering 60%. The NRF disclosed that on average for every $1 billion in sales stores lost $719,548 in profits because of theft-induced shrink.
Theft that has been happening at stores like Best Buy is particularly prevalent in cities like San Francisco. A Louis Vuitton store, a Burberry store, a local jewelry store, Bloomingdale’s, and Walgreens in San Francisco all suffered incidents of theft within just days of each other. Neil Saunders, retail analyst, and managing director at GlobalData Retail warned that if this trend is not reversed many local communities could up suffering. He explained that if companies are losing too much money due to shoplifting they will simply close up shop in that location and move their business elsewhere. If that starts happening to a high degree then not only will consumers who live in that area have their options choked but it will also remove jobs, and the local economy will end up suffering.