WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Crime Risk to Business 2023,” highlights the surge in retail and related crime impacting businesses of all sizes across the United States. While commending progress made in the fight against retail crime, the report notes much more needs to be done and outlines needed policy actions from local, state, and national lawmakers.
The report includes a new Chamber survey examining a range of corporate documents, including 10-K filings, earnings calls, presentations, and other records of companies listed on the S&P 500. The findings are alarming: mentions of organized retail crime from January 1, 2023, through August 31, 2023 alone already surpass the numbers recorded last year by 43%. If this trend persists, such mentions of organized retail crime are on track to nearly double from 2022 to 2023, marking a staggering 94.5% increase by year-end.
Tom Wickham, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of State & Local Policy, said, “The scourge of organized retail crime has become increasingly pervasive, with retailer losses driven by retail crime totaling nearly $100 billion dollars last year. No store should have to close because of theft, but we are sadly seeing more stores – particular smaller ones – shuttering their doors because of theft and other crime in their neighborhoods.”
An earlier survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has revealed that a staggering 56% of small businesses report being targeted by retail theft, while nearly half describe the issue as getting worse. In a March 2022 letter from the Chamber to federal and state officials, the Chamber declared organized retail crime to be a national crisis, calling upon policymakers to take specific actions to help businesses fight crime.
Since the Chamber’s public letter, progress in the fight against organized retail theft has included:
- Passage of the INFORM Act, which combats the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency in online retail marketplaces, with the law taking effect in June this year.
- States fighting back, with twelve states having created new statutes, revised existing statutes, or created enhanced penalties to allow for greater prosecution of organized retail crime. 19 state legislatures have also put new laws on the books to combat organized retail crime.
To build on this progress, the new report urges:
- Increased public-private cooperation, specifically recommending that state officials and businesses should coordinate resources to combat criminal gangs.
- Lawmakers need to update their laws to allow prosecutors to aggregate multiple offenses across jurisdictions.
- Local prosecutors must aggressively prosecute crimes against businesses, and if they don’t, lawmakers should circumvent them or make it easy to remove them.
“As awareness around this issue grows, driven in part by Chamber efforts with the business community, civic organizations, and policymakers—we hope this new report will serve as a key resource as we all work together as effected stakeholders to combat this crime surge,” said Wickham.
For more information or to access the full report, please visit here.