Not surprisingly, Covid-19 had a significant impact on fraud and theft in retail environments. According to the 2021 Retail Security Survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), as retailers responded to their customers’ needs during global lockdowns, security risks migrated to new channels retailers used to reach consumers.
While online sales exploded, retailers reported the greatest increase in fraud occurred in omnichannel environments like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). Nearly 39 percent of retailers identified BOPIS as the area where they found the greatest increase in fraud, compared to only 19 percent last year. The share of retailers reporting online as the channel in which fraud increased the most held steady at around 26 percent.
“Retailers have continuously pivoted throughout the pandemic to ensure their employees can work within a safe environment and their customers can shop safely, whether in stores, online or through avenues like buy online, pick up in store,” NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews said. “But new ways of shopping have also opened up new avenues for criminal activity. As retailers adapt to address these new security threats, the need for federal support is even greater to combat these dangerous and harmful activities.”
Organized retail crime became more of a focus during the past year as the size and scope of these threats continued to grow. NRF noted in the report that retailers clearly need more support from lawmakers and law enforcement. A large majority of respondents (78 percent) believe a federal ORC law is needed to effectively combat these issues rather than be left to a jumble of local jurisdictions.