Retail Roundtable: How Serious is the Retail Shrink Crisis?

August 7, 2023


In recent years, the narrative surrounding retail shrink—a significant issue for brick-and-mortar stores—has taken a dramatic turn. Fueling headlines are reports of escalating organized retail crime (ORC), with stores like Walmart shuttering locations in Portland, Oregon, and Target predicting a $500 million impact on profitability due to inventory shrink. Contrarily, some recent surveys show a slight dip in average shrink rates. So, what’s the real picture?

Is the purported retail shrink crisis a symptom of media hysteria, or is it an actual uptick in theft deserving attention? That’s the question set to be answered in this week’s discussion.

On this retail episode of The Industry Roundtable by MarketScale, an esteemed panel of professionals across the retail ecosystem, from strategic consulting to logistics solutions providers, join host Daniel Litwin, the Voice of B2B, to discuss the nuances of retail shrink, the rise of ORC, the impact of omnichannel retail on shrink rates, and propose strategies to mitigate inventory loss.

Key talking points from the episode:

  • Investigation into retailers’ on-the-ground experiences of shrink, with several surveys indicating an increased scope and pressure despite contradictory reports.
  • Analysis of the influence of the maturing omnichannel retail ecosystem on retail shrink rates. Has the rise of Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and increased cross-platform integrations led to more complex inventory management?
  • Discussion of the NRF ORC study and its findings, including the 84% increase in cargo theft incidents between 2019 and 2021, and the prevalent targeting of electronic goods by ORC perpetrators.
  • Debate on the impact of security measures on customer experience—does securing products and reducing staff accessibility lead to a more cumbersome shopping experience?
  • Identification of key areas where retailers need to focus their efforts to effectively combat inventory loss and retail shrink.

Our panel’s industry experts include:

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