Op-ed by David French, Sr. V.P. of Govt. Relations at NRF, RealClearMarkets
The rampant rise in organized retail crime is a major, ongoing problem in the United States that has hurt consumers and retail businesses alike. Videos of brazen thefts at national retailers have garnered significant attention in many cities, but small retail businesses are also targeted. In fact, these small businesses are often doubly victimized: First by the crime in and around their stores and then by fraudulent activity in many competitive online marketplaces where stolen merchandise is peddled by criminals masquerading as merchants.
As a final version of the Bipartisan Innovation Act continues to be negotiated, Congress must ensure that H.R. 5502, the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act — the most common-sense option available to address this crisis — is included in the final package.
Organized retail crime costs retailers more than $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales on average, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey, and 69 percent of retailers surveyed in 2021 said they had seen a rise in ORC during the previous year. Products stolen in stores are ending up online, which poses a problem for both the consumer and honest online sellers. Online marketplaces have already instituted enhanced programs and partnerships with law enforcement to combat this, but more resources and increased penalties for criminals online only stand to help.
Retail contributes $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supports one in four U.S. jobs. To continue powering the U.S. economy, 78 percent of retailers say federal law is essential to combat the onslaught of organized retail crime that continues to terrorize their storefronts. Without federal support, this thriving industry and the businesses and consumers that rely on it will continue fighting an uphill battle against nefarious actors online.