Retail crime has become largely desensitised but the profound and lasting mental impact on frontline retail staff and customers is often overlooked.
All retail workers have a right to feel safe at work. It’s not the norm to be yelled at – or spat at – for doing your job. It’s certainly not the norm to be punched or assaulted or intimidated with a weapon for doing your job. And it’s not the norm to have organised crime gangs swarm workplaces taking whatever they want and damaging whatever they want.
As the retail landscape continues to evolve with retailers focused on providing a shopping experience that’s more convenient and efficient for the modern-day customer, the increase of retail crime remains a critical challenge for retailers that demand a comprehensive and strategic response for criminals who are becoming more brazen, risky and in search for an audience on various social media platforms.
That is why the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) recently brought together the nation’s top major retailers at our inaugural Retail Crime Symposium to hear from the top of law enforcement, criminal experts and to discuss how we can best protect frontline retail workers and prevent the escalation of retail crime across the country.
The NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb was a guest speaker, as was forensic anthropologist and criminologist Dr Xanthé Mallet.
The top three priorities retailers identified:
• Tougher penalties against criminals that assault retail workers required in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and ACT
• Better education on the impacts that retail crime has on retail workers and customers
• More informed data to highlight the significance of retail crime in Australia
• Commissioner Webb spoke on the importance of building better relationships between retailers and law enforcement and this theme has been echoed by various police agencies across the country.
Many of our retailers also highlighted the increase in Organised Crime, which directly impacts customers by creating stock shortages on essential items like baby formula. In fact one retailer remarked that, “10 percent of offenders cause 75 percent of loss through organised crime”.
The retail sector is a unique environment that employs teenagers, for many this is their first job. It also employs are large number of people from diverse backgrounds. There is a need to implement tougher laws like those achieved in South Australia, New South Wales and Northern Territory across the country to better protect retail workers.
A recent ARA survey revealed troubling statistics:
• More than 91 percent of respondents have experienced retail crime.
• Shoplifting followed by verbal abuse and customer aggression were the top three criminal activities experienced by retailers.
• Nearly 50 percent (47.96%) of our respondents have seen an increase in organised crime.
• Out of the respondents who have had to respond by temporarily closing their businesses, nearly 45 percent of those came from a small enterprise and more than 30 percent from major retailers.
Retail crime is not an isolated problem affecting individual businesses in isolation.
It impacts the entire industry, from small boutique shops to large national chains.
Major banks were long the victims of armed robberies until they worked together to tackle the issue as a united front.
Click here to view the gallery from the ARA’s Inaugral Retail Crime Symposium.