SHOPPERS have claimed they are facing a new reality of the retail experience as several companies are said to be locking up products.
One frustrated customer noted that some major companies, including Best Buy, appear to have taken drastic measures to combat rising thefts.
In an episode earlier this week, Hirsch explained to her co-host Wailin Wong that she went to Best Buy to find out how the technology retailer is responding to the increase in shrinkage and theft noted by several CEOs, including Dick’s Sporting, according to Lauren Hobart of Goods.
“It’s been a while since I set foot in Best Buy, but I stopped by one of the electronics retailer’s stores last week to see how they handle customer theft,” Hirsch noted.
“There was a security guard at the door, there were a lot of customer service agents in the aisles and there was a lot of inventory on the shelves.”
Hirsch continued that some of the smaller items near the checkout areas and in various areas around the store are not visible to customers, but are only marked with labels and QR codes.
“But in some cases there is nothing for some of the, I don’t know, easy to store items. There are just these little laminated labels with QR codes on them,” she explained.
“If you want the item in question, simply scan it with your phone and a customer service representative will bring it to you.”
Wong argued that the security measure was clearly an anti-theft tactic used to prevent a further increase in retail theft.
“This is all aimed at combating an issue that many retailers say is one of the biggest problems they face right now – theft,” the co-host noted.
“Yes. I have to say, during my visit to Best Buy, the occasional lack of physical products on the floor was a little frustrating,” Hirsch noted later in the conversation.
“I mean, it’s difficult to compare two headphones, for example, when they’re not physically in front of you and you’re just looking at two QR codes instead.”
She added: “I don’t know. Maybe this is just our new reality in retail.”
The couple also presented alarming statistics they received from the National Retail Association (NRF) about the decline in stocks in recent years.
Inventory depletion occurs when the actual number of products in stock in a store is less than the quantity recorded in a retailer’s inventory list Institute for Corporate Finance.
“The discrepancy may be due to clerical errors, damaged or lost goods, or theft from the point of purchase from a supplier to the point of sale,” the website says.
Hirsch and Wong point out that a significant portion of this discrepancy is due to theft, and NRF data appeared to support their claims.
“Organized retail crime is part of what the National Retail Federation (NRF) calls external theft, where people go into your store and steal things,” Wong noted in the podcast episode.
“It cost businesses around $35 billion in 2021 and it’s only getting worse.”
Hirsch added that NRF calculations found that at least 37 percent of inventory shrinkage at retailers was due to theft, but at least 54 percent was due to combined mismanagement problems.
When The US Sun spoke with former Target executive and Omni Talk co-CEO Chris Walton in July, he confirmed similar assumptions that despite concerns, theft accounts for only a smaller portion of inventory shrinkage.
Walton said self-checkout stations in particular could be causing significant shrinkage issues at several retail giants, including Walmart, Target and several others.
The technology in the systems still often misidentifies products when scanning.
“Inventory misidentification often occurs during the self-checkout process,” he told The US Sun.
“It’s not just about theft – I think theft is played around a lot, but shrinkage is a combination of theft and misidentification of inventory.”
Chris added: “The customer might say, ‘Hey, I put in the item number for tomatoes, but I actually had organic tomatoes and I didn’t really plan on doing that.’
“That leads to a decline in inventory right there.”
However, organized retail crime remains evident for some businesses in the United States.
Neighbors in the area recently brought attention to a Target in Sacramento, California, after claiming that the location was experiencing multiple thefts daily CBS News.
Some homeowners have taken it upon themselves to stake out the business and document the incidents. They sent footage of several shoppers leaving the store with shopping carts full of allegedly stolen products.
For more on retail theft, check out The US Sun’s coverage of Walmart’s recently announced shoplifting prevention measure, which customers are calling “dystopian.”
The US Sun also reports on Nike closing a 40-year-old “flagship” store as thefts in the area are said to have gotten out of control.