Violence At Retail

The Lempert Report
May 02, 2023

There's a rise of violence in brick and mortar. Retail workers nationwide are scared to go into work during potential hostile situations. In a survey of 700 small businesses last year, 54% report arise in shoplifting. 23% said they were robbed. Every day CVS has told Congress that shoplifting was up 300% over pre-pandemic figures. Retail theft reports up 52% over 2021 in Philadelphia, in New York City, there was 45%. Now what's interesting to me about this story is in New York, there were 327 people, that's it, 327 people who were arrested and rearrested in more than 6,000 instances. So what it really is talking about is how this crime is very organized. Prosecutors' Alliance of California estimates that 500 billion worth of stolen or counterfeit goods are sold every year through online marketplaces, including Amazon. But probably the most important thing they show how are these retailers gonna cope with having employees that really, frankly just don't want to come to work because they're afraid. 

Sally: Yes, it is a huge concern. And we saw this really start ramping up when the shutdown happened, when Covid happened, and people that were just going into these retail stores weren't in great moods because our lives were in turmoil from this situation. And now with prices up on food, people are frustrated when they go shopping. And so there is a tendency for more hostility and anger. In this study, 33% revealed that their retail store had experienced a violent situation ranging from robberies to physical altercations. Now what the conversation is like how do you prepare your employees to deal with hostile customers? Should our employees be security? Should they be monitoring and catching thieves? I'm not so sure that that's really their job. And I wonder if the answer is having higher tighter security or maybe those checkout lanes, having so many of those isn't the best idea. After all, if people are going through with a clerk if they have to check out their groceries with the clerk, then they're less likely to steal. 

Phil: Absolutely. And I've seen people at the self scane steal things, it's really relatively easy. And I think to your point, we don't wanna put employees or teachers in the position of really being a policeman, but I think we have to do what Hy-vee has done. And it's unfortunate to say, but what Hy-vee has done is hired retired police officers, either retired or folks that don't want to be police officers anymore, that are armed, that are wearing a bulletproof shield a police issue bulletproof shield to monitor all the stores. And I think if you've got people like that in the stores, you're gonna have less of these flash mobs that come in and just steal whatever they want.