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Best Buy CEO: Jump on theft traumatizes staff

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“It is traumatic for our associates and unacceptable,” Barry said on a call with analysts Tuesday. “We are doing everything we can to try to create [an] environment as safe as possible. “

Barry said the company is implementing a number of tactics to minimize theft and protect staff and customers. For example, Best Buy locks down more products and hires security where appropriate.

Barry said retail organized crime is on the rise at Best Buy. The tactic involves an organized “gang” of people who steal entire shelves of high-value products, such as electronics, to resell them for a profit.

The upsurge in crime is becoming such a problem that it is striking Best buy (BBY) profits and could hurt its ability to retain and attract more employees in a tight labor market, Barry said in an interview Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”.

Some incidents involved individuals bringing in a weapon, such as a gun or crowbar, she said.

The retail industry is struggling to cope with the escalation of organized theft in retail. A 2020 survey of 61 retailers in the National Retail Federation, the industry’s largest trade group, found organized retail theft jumped nearly 60% from 2015 and costs an average of 719,548 $ to stores for $ 1 billion in sales.

Smash and grab on the rise

Barry’s comments follow a spate of retail thefts in San Francisco over the past few days in which thieves have targeted a Louis Vuitton store, Burberry store, jewelry store, and Bloomingdale’s and Walgreens stores.
On Saturday, a Nordstrom (JWN) A department store near San Francisco was ransacked in what police described as a “smash-and-grab” incident.

Industry experts say store theft is now an acute problem and is getting worse.

“While retailers have always suffered from general shoplifting, there is a growing plague of organized gangs that steal on command,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director of GlobalData Retail.

“Gangs are much more dangerous for retailers and for customers who shop in stores,” he said. “The problem is, while store security and associates can scold shoplifters, they aren’t able to do much against gangs because they’re outnumbered. “

Saunders said his local communities would eventually suffer if this trend was not reversed.

“If the theft becomes too serious, retailers will just pull out of certain locations, as we’ve seen with some pharmacies before,” he said.

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