In its annual retail survey, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that retail shrink is an almost $100 billion problem. NRF’s Retail Security Survey is an annual survey of retail loss prevention professionals that covers national retail security issues such as inventory shrink, employee integrity and organized retail crime (ORC). The survey found that the average shrink rate in 2021 was 1.4%, which represents $94.5 billion in losses, up from $90.8 billion in 2020.
Retail shrink encompasses many forms, including employee fraud, administrative errors and customer theft. ORC was a big factor in 2021, with retailers seeing an average 26.5% increase in ORC. Nearly 80% of retailers also saw an increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC incidents. The majority of respondents reported that guest-on-associate violence, external theft, ORC and cyber crimes have become higher priorities for their organizations.
The study found that retailers are devoting more money to loss prevention and technology, with 44.5% of respondents reporting their 2022 loss prevention budgets were increasing compared with the previous year. That money is being spent on solutions such as artificial intelligence-based video analytics at point of sale and self-checkout, self-service locking cases, autonomous security robots and license plate recognition. In addition, almost one-third of retailers surveyed have established a dedicated ORC team.