The January 25, 2024 hearing in Albany focused on public protection

The Retail Council of New York State submitted testimony related to public protection provisions included in the 2024-25 FY Executive Budget proposal. The Retail Council’s comments are specific to retail theft prevention and include the following highlights:

  • For context, stores in New York lost $4.4 billion in revenue as a result of theft in 2022, according to Capital One Research. The same study noted that the State of New York lost $176 million in retail sale tax dollars due to theft. The financial loss is stunning, of course, but this is not our primary focus when discussing the issue with leaders throughout the state. Our priority is the safety of our customers and employees, as 88% of retailers report that “shoplifters are somewhat more or much more aggressive and violent compared with one year ago,” according to the 2023 Retail Security Survey
  • The challenges presented by retail theft activity do not stop at the threshold of a retail store – community safety is also an important consideration as we continue to examine the issue and meaningful solutions. Retailers have reported that theft and violence have resulted in a reduction of specific store operating hours, reduced product selections and even closure of certain store locations, according to the 2023 Retail Security survey. It is clear that the impact of retail theft and related crimes on local communities is real and significant.
  • In each discussion related to retail theft, I underscore that we – as an industry – do not prioritize isolated shoplifting incidents in which an individual may be taking an item out of necessity. Our concerns relate to repeat offenders, those who participate in organized retail crime rings and individuals who exhibit violent and disruptive behavior in store settings. To put this into context, in May 2023, New York Police Department Chief Michael LiPetri spoke about retail theft and reported that “250 people in 2023 have been arrested almost 2,500 times. … Who are these people? 52% are convicted felons.”

Melissa O’Connor
President and CEO
Retail Council of New York State

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