NRF explained this Act would amplify resources and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to deal with ORC.

The organisation pointed out that external theft, which includes ORC, is the primary driver of retail “shrink”. NRF’s National Retail Security Survey reveals that ORC reached $94.5bn in 2021, with retailers reporting an increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC.

Ahead of the hearing on 13 June, NRF submitted a written statement for the record detailing the growing negative impact of ORC on American businesses, workers and consumers.

According to the statement: “Retailers’ foremost concern with ORC activity is the safety of retail workers and their customers. Individuals and groups committing these crimes have used threats and acts of violence, including the use of weapons, to aid theft. 80% of retailers noted an increase in violence and aggression by customers toward workers in 2021. Extremely concerning is the depressing fact that several retail workers have been killed during recent theft incidents — including trained security personnel as well as retail workers serving in customer-facing roles.

“As more acts of blatant and deadly thefts take place in stores, the consequences are apparent for both retailers and consumers alike. Both store associates and customers are being harmed and threatened. Shoppers are now seeing everyday items like toothpaste and dish soap behind lock and key. Retailers know it is an inconvenience for customers. The anti-theft security measures can lead to lost sales from customers who must wait for an employee to unlock a cabinet so they can access a product. As the theft of merchandise continues, the cost of securing those items skyrockets. Retailers already operate on very slim margins and can only absorb so much cost to remain profitable.”

The testimony also cited NRF’s latest research on retail crime, which shows retail loss is a nearly $100bn problem and growing. Another study cited from NRF and global risk advisory firm K2 Integrity found that ORC groups are growing in both their scope and complexity, making them harder to stop. Both reports highlight the need for federal solutions like the Combating Organised Retail Crime Act.

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The hearing follows last week’s NRF Protect event, where more than 2,000 retail professionals convened in Grapevine, Texas, to discuss retailers’ concerns over protecting inventory from shoplifters, data from website hacks, and customers and employees from harm.

In a flash poll during the event among 232 retail professionals, 90% said ORC is more of a risk to their business than it was three years ago.

Furthering its efforts in support of the Combating Organised Retail Crime Act, NRF said it launched a national grassroots campaign.

Recently, NRF and EuroCommerce released a document titled “Towards a Transatlantic Data Privacy Framework: Ensuring Consumer Trust and Business Competitiveness” to support the data privacy framework between the European Union (EU) and the United States.