Despite recent inflationary challenges, holiday spending – particularly traditional in-store shopping – is predicted to be massive this season.
The holiday season is upon us, and as we enter the busiest shopping season of the year, retailers should take note: despite feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, consumers are expected to engage strongly in commerce during the 2022 holiday shopping season.
In fact, according to a report from the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday sales for 2022 are expected to increase between 6% and 8% over 2021. This year’s holiday season is anything but typical. U.S. shopping trends are finally normalizing after more than two years of pandemic-driven disruption. While online shopping will remain important, households are predicted to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience in a post-pandemic world.
Unfortunately, the ‘season of giving’ is also the season of taking, and there is nothing holly jolly about theft, robbery, and smash-and-grabs. Theft rates surge over the holidays, and this year may be particularly overwhelming for retailers. The increase in sales will bring an increase in merchandise shrink from shoplifting, organized retail crime and other criminal behavior. These circumstances lead not only to lost profits, but also safety concerns for both customers and employees.
Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported that theft in the Chicago Police Department’s 18th District – which includes the Magnificent Mile – increased a staggering 74% from January through early November of this year.
With the busiest shopping season of the year in full swing, it’s critical for retailers to understand their risks and vulnerabilities.
Risks and Vulnerabilities for Chicago Retailers
The holiday season is unequivocally the busiest time of the year for the retail industry. Criminals know this and will dramatically increase their attacks on businesses during this time of year.
On any given year, loss of inventory due to theft, shoplifting, error, or fraud – otherwise known as shrinkage – skyrockets over the holidays by an average of more than 15%. In fact, 37% of retailers’ annual shrink loss occurs during the holiday shopping season. One of the biggest reasons for the increase in shrinkage involves increased foot traffic, which creates chaotic stores and overwhelmed employees. Criminals are opportunistic and take full advantage of these circumstances.
Organized Retail Crime
From smash-and-grabs on Michigan Avenue to large-scale looting events, organized retail crime (ORC) is on the rise throughout Illinois, accounting for a staggering $45 billion in losses for Chicago area retailers. Although the most high-profile robberies have recently occurred on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, small businesses are also on the front lines of retail theft across Illinois.
By definition, ORC is a sophisticated method of theft that involves professional thieves working as an organized group to steal large amounts of inventory. From in-store thefts to cargo hijacking, ORC activities are reportedly growing more brazen and violent, putting the safety of customers and employees in jeopardy.
Pushout theft, which involves filling a shopping cart with merchandise and then leaving the store without paying, is an attack on retailers’ revenue and margins and fueled largely by ORC groups and opportunistic shoplifters.
Unlike typical shoplifting, which relies on concealment of smaller items, pushout theft targets larger items in greater quantities. The average loss of pushout theft is $1,342 and 10% of these thefts end in violence.
Like other methods of theft, ORC activity increases during the holidays due to increased opportunities to strike. It’s important to note that ORC enterprises do not discriminate, and criminals will target every product line that can be easily monetized. The proceeds from these thefts are then used to fund other illegal activities, such as human trafficking and narcotics.
Amid the alarming numbers of organized robberies of retail establishments across Chicago, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill in May to pass a new law – known as the INFORM Act – which will impose stiffer penalties for smash-and-grabs and other organized retail theft. Unfortunately, the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2023…too late for this holiday shopping season.
Shoplifting is a constant issue for retailers, but as the holiday season approaches, shoplifting incidents increase dramatically.
A recent study by CompareCamp found that Chicago is one of the top 5 cities in the country for shoplifting incidents, and the growing problem with retail theft in the Chicagoland area has made national headlines in recent weeks. Although theft is rampant across the city, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile has recently become the target of rampant shoplifting that has forced several retail stores to shutter their doors.
Studies from the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention show that more than 9% of consumers are shoplifters. On average, they are apprehended only one in every 48 times they shoplift.
Safety Concerns on Retailer Premises
The huge influx of shoppers on a retailer’s property this holiday season will increase the likelihood of crimes happening both inside and outside the store.
The FBI reports that parking lots and garages are the third most dangerous location for violent crime; criminals take advantage of reduced lighting and decreased surveillance. During the holiday shopping season, thieves are looking for easy targets, including cars filled with purchases and distracted individuals carrying shopping bags full of merchandise back to their vehicles.
How Chicago Retailers Can Mitigate Risks This Holiday Season
The consequences of failing to address the wide variety of security threats during the holiday season can be catastrophic to a Chicago retailer’s bottom line.
Chicago has been dealing with a near-constant surge in organized attacks on retail establishments which shows no signs of slowing down and regularly makes national headlines. Thieves have broken windows, flooded stores, beaten and pepper-sprayed employees and made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise.
The Blue Star Security team comprises of state-certified law enforcement officers with extensive training in retail security, loss prevention, crisis management and public safety.
Chicago retailers can utilize our armed security services to help them re-focus on operating their business during the busiest shopping season of the year. Our team can help Chicago retailers with:
• Shoplifting Prevention
• Employee Theft Prevention
• Organized Retail Crime Investigations
• Parking Lot Security
To learn more about the steps that your business can take to ensure better safety and security for your customers and staff, call us at 708-669-7470 or contact us online at bluestarsecurityltd.com/contact-us.
To learn more about our retail security services, visit https://bluestarsecurityllc.com/services/retail-security/.
To learn more about our Organized Retail Crime Investigation services, visit https://bluestarsecurityllc.com/services/organized-retail-crime-investigations/.