(CNN) — Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said theft is a growing problem in the company’s stores and that it is implementing additional security measures to protect employees and shoppers.
“This is traumatic for our associates and unacceptable,” Barry said in a call with analysts Tuesday. “We are doing everything possible to try to create the safest environment possible.”
Barry said the company is implementing a series of tactics to minimize theft and protect staff and customers. For example, Best Buy is blocking more products and hiring security when necessary.
Barry said that retail organized crime is on the rise at Best Buy. The tactic involves an organized “gang” of people stealing entire shelves of high-value products, such as electronics, to resell them for a profit.
The rise in crime is becoming such a problem that it is hurting Best Buy’s profits and could hurt its ability to retain and attract more employees in a tight job market, Barry said in an interview Tuesday on the show “Squawk. on the Street “from CNBC.
Some incidents involved people carrying a weapon, such as a pistol or crowbar, he said.
The retail industry is struggling to handle the escalation of organized retail theft. A 2020 survey of 61 retailers from the National Retail Federation, the largest trade group in the industry, showed that organized retail theft increased by nearly 60% since 2015 and cost stores an average of $ 719,548 per US $ 1 billion in sales.
Express thefts on the rise at Best Buy
Barry’s comments come on the heels of a series of San Francisco retail robberies in recent days in which thieves attacked a Louis Vuitton store, a Burberry store, a jewelry store, and Bloomingdale’s and Walgreens stores.
This Saturday, a Nordstrom department store near San Francisco was ransacked in what police described as an “express robbery” incident.
Industry experts say shoplifting is now a serious problem and getting worse.
“While retailers have always suffered from shoplifting in general, there is a growing scourge of organized gangs stealing to order,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director of GlobalData Retail.
“Gangs are much more dangerous for retailers and for customers who shop in stores,” he said. “The problem is that while store security and associates can take on thieves, they can’t do much against gangs as they are outnumbered.”
Saunders said their local communities will ultimately suffer if this trend is not reversed.
“If the theft grows too big, then the retailers will just pull out of certain locations, as we’ve seen with some of the stores already,” he said.