Small Retailers Report Increases in Retail Theft, Raise Prices to Offset Losses


More than half (56 percent) of small businesses in the retail sector say they have been victims of shoplifting in the past year, according to a new survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Fifty percent of small retailers say the issue has gotten worse over the past year, and 46 percent of them have been forced to increase their prices over the past year as a result of shoplifting.

“Retail theft is not a victimless crime, and its increasing prevalence means greater danger for store employees and higher costs for law-abiding Americans,” says Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Store owners are not only confronted with traditional shoplifting, but increasingly with highly organized criminal gangs who seek to profit by taking advantage of gaps in the law. To better protect businesses, employees and customers from falling victim to organized retail theft, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to make changes, including passing legislation to stop the sale of stolen goods on online marketplaces, updating the definition of organized retail crime, and increasing criminal penalties, and prosecuting these criminals for their actions.”

Organized retail theft rates, reports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “have spiked significantly in the past year, affecting communities across the nation. This theft is perpetrated by organized criminal rings that steal large amounts of goods with the intent to resell them, particularly online. These groups are taking advantage of state laws regarding the levels of theft that will be prosecuted, which in many cases allow their members to avoid any prosecution altogether. These laws allow criminal rings to operate with impunity across county and state lines, hitting store after store and accumulating massive quantities of stolen goods.”

To combat rising retail theft, the Chamber has urged Congress to pass legislation to provide more transparency in online marketplaces by requiring sellers of large quantities of goods to provide basic, “know your seller” information. The Chamber has also urged state and local governments to prosecute theft rings and enact policy changes that would help law enforcement and prosecutors arrest and prosecute criminals.

The survey questions were asked as part of the Q3 2022 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, an online survey of 750 small business owners and decision makers designed to take the temperature of the sector, see where small business owners are confident, and where they are experiencing challenges. Retail was one of four sectors represented in the survey.

You can check out the rest of the Chamber’s Q3 Small Business Index findings here.