In the ever-evolving retail landscape, theft remains a significant concern; however, profound business disruptions affect the safety of in-store employees and customers on a daily basis. Behind the storefronts are a complex web of everyday challenges that extend far beyond the surface issue of shoplifting. These challenges reverberate through businesses and have a ripple effect on the communities they serve.
Today, the retail industry employs over 21 million people in the US, remaining one of the country’s largest industries. The loss of over $39.2 billion in employee wages due to organized retail crime is just the visible tip of the iceberg in a retail industry beset by numerous daily disruptions. As Loss Prevention Magazine points out, these economic losses not only erode the industry’s profitability but also cascade down to consumers who bear the challenge of higher retail prices. Below the surface issue of profit losses are the daily threats to personal safety faced by retail employees who run these establishments every day.
Among these challenges, the most disheartening include the alarming surge in violence and aggression directed at retail employees. Just two weeks ago, the 2023 National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) revealed concerning numbers. Among these is an increase in violence and aggression directed at retail employees; a staggering 88% of nationwide retailers reported a significant increase compared to the previous year.
Compounding that this year, more than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said that they were seeing even more violence and aggression from ORC perpetrators compared with a year ago. These statistics underscore the broader challenges faced by the industry, including instances of property damage, drug activity, and a lack of meaningful engagement with local law enforcement, leading to delayed or no responses, and contributing to the recidivist cycle.
This post will delve into the multifaceted issues that affect retail businesses and the individuals who run them every day. Moreover, we will shed light on how ALTO steps in as the innovative, collaborative, hands-on solution to safeguarding retail businesses, store employees, and communities, ultimately fostering a safer future.
The Rising Impact of Retail Violence
This surge in violence takes a profound toll, not only on the employees but also the surrounding community, eroding the sense of a safe shopping environment. The top concerns of retailers, as revealed by the 2023 NRSS, are as follows: organized retail crime (ORC) tops the list at 78%, closely followed by violence during criminal acts, mass violence events, and assault on store associates – all of which have become increasingly prioritized by retailers, says the NRSS, compared to the previous year.
The impact of challenges related to violence, assault, and organized retail crime extends well beyond financial losses and concerns of consumers, as highlighted by the NRSS. The store associates, who typically spend the majority of their day-to-day lives at work, shoulder a significant burden in this regard.
The Threat to Employee Morale
In a fair rationale to prevent more danger and escalated situations, employees typically are not permitted to intervene during these incidents. But with the legal landscape surrounding shoplifting increasing in complexity – several states, reports LPM, have ceased prosecuting shoplifting cases altogether, crediting factors like budget, rising crime rates, and limited resources – offenders have more of an advantage in getting away with little to no consequences. Repeat offenders target these legal gaps and the recidivist cycle continues.
Working in a seemingly lawless environment takes a considerable emotional toll on the morale and overall well-being of store associates, an issue emphasized by LPM. Many will choose to find employment elsewhere. It is worth noting that we all likely know someone who works in retail — these challenges are not simply statistics, but concerns for the safety of our loved ones.
When consumers begin feeling unsafe, these stores may experience reduced foot traffic, with implications that resonate throughout the broader community. These challenges present the need for innovative solutions to address the multifaceted impact of violence, assault, and ORC on retailers and their communities. Addressing these challenges requires a collaborative approach that champions innovative solutions, exemplified by ALTO, to create a safer environment for all stakeholders involved.
ALTO Elevates Retail Safety
ALTO recognizes that innovating retail safety measures goes beyond mitigating shoplifting alone. The multifaceted issue demands a modern solution that acknowledges its intricacies by fostering collaborations with retailers, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and community leaders.
Our strategic approach – never a one-size-fits-all solution – starts at the incident. Through our proprietary app, in-store employees report incident data, which we analyze to formulate action plans and legal cases aimed at mitigating business disruptions and creating a rift in the recidivism cycle.
To tackle the underlying causes of these daily challenges, ALTO’s teams collaborate with community leaders and law enforcement to organize local events, facilitating the development of strategic action plans and enduring solutions. ALTO’s work is underpinned by compassion, exemplified by our long-lasting partnerships and sustainable strategies that address societal factors and community issues, fostering positive change from within and radiating outward.