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Half of retail workers have witnessed theft in the past 6 months, survey shows

grocery boarded up

In the past six months, 50 percent of retail and grocery workers say they’ve witnessed a theft or attempted theft, and 33 percent say they have experienced violent situations with customers, according to a survey.

Axonify polled 1,000 U.S. frontline workers in retail and grocery, and says, “Grocery and retail workers are experiencing an increase in hostile and violent situations with customers, but they’re not getting the right training and tools to handle these volatile interactions. As a result, 40% of associates feel scared to go to work.”

The survey says 28 percent of workers have ignored a theft or attempted theft, and when asked why, 36 percent said it’s because they don’t feel equipped to handle the situation.

Retailers have been more outspoken about theft and organized retail crime this year.

In May, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. BB #:166987 chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said during and earnings call that organized retail crime and theft are increasingly urgent, and dealing with it leads to a “less convenient shopping experience,” and puts guests and employees in harm’s way.  

He said Target is on pace to see more than $1 billion in losses tied to shrink this year.

Bentonville, AR-based Walmart Inc. BB #:143789 also has discussed recent retail theft and has closed stores in Portland, OR, Chicago, and other markets, citing low performance and theft.  

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in December that theft has been higher than historical levels, and Walmart works with local law enforcement to manage it. But if Walmart doesn’t get cooperation from local law enforcement, “prices will be higher, and/or stores will close.”


Greg Johnson is Vice President of Media for Blue Book Services