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Retail Losses Hit $41.6B in 2006

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers will find little to cheer about in two recent crime surveys by the National Retail Federation (NRF). One finds that organized crime is on the rise, while the other finds that dollar losses from theft and fraud have reached an all-time high.

More than three-quarters of retailers (78%) said their company has been a victim of organized crime within the past year, according to the NRF’s third annual Organized Retail Crime survey. And 71% of retailers noticed an uptick in the same during the past 12 months, up dramatically from 48% in 2006.

Organized retail crime rings steal merchandise from stores and then typically sell the goods at flea markets or through online auction sites. According to the survey, 61% of retailers have identified or recovered merchandise from a fence location, up from 59% last year.

In April, NRF, in conjunction with the FBI and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), announced the creation of the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network, a national database to help retailers track and identify organized retail theft via a secure Web portal. Members include Wal-Mart Stores, Safeway, Sears Holdings Corp., Macy’s, J.C. Penney and the Walgreen Co.

A separate study, the National Retail Security Survey, conducted annually by the NRF and the University of Florida, found that retail shrinkage as a percentage of sales averaged 1.61% in 2006, nearly unchanged from 1.60% in 2005. Despite significant investments by retailers in new loss-prevention programs and technology, total retail losses increased to $41.6 billion in 2006, from $37.5 billion in 2005, as overall sales rose.

According to the survey, employee theft accounted for most (47%) of retail shrinkage last year, followed by shoplifting (32%). Other losses, including administrative errors, made up the remainder.

As to the weapons used to combat theft, the survey finds most retailers’ loss-prevention arsenal includes burglar alarms (95.7%), visible closed-circuit TVs (87.1%) and digital video (84.9%). Check screening, armored cars and point-of-sale data-mining software are also prevalent.

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Long lines greet iPhone debut

BY CSA STAFF

CUPERTINO, Calif. The long-awaited debut of Apple’s iPhone was greeted with long lines outside of Apple and AT&T stores on June 29 with some people camping out days to get one. Analysts expected Apple’s new smart phone to sell about 200,000 units during its first weekend in release.

The combination phone and Web browser is selling for $499 for a basic phone and $599 for a version with 8GB of memory. The sleek phone that’s operated with a touch screen also comes with an iPod and a camera. The phones are being sold exclusively at 166 Apple stores and 1,800 stores operated by service provider AT&T. Apple ceo Steve Jobs said he hopes to sell about 10 million iPhones during its first year on the market.

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CE vet Callahan passes on

BY CSA STAFF

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. CE veteran Phil Callahan died from what is believed to be a heart attack June 26 at the age of 57.

Callahan spent several years at Mitsubishi and also held positions at Sumiko, Hitachi and Princeton Graphics Systems. In June 2005 he founded a public relations and consulting firm named Callahan Public Relations and Consulting.

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