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12/09/2021

Retail CEOs ask Congress to combat retail counterfeiting and theft

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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CEOs of major retailers want Congress to act against organized crime.

The CEOs of 20 leading retailers have signed a letter from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) expressing concern over organized retail crime.

The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), says retailers are concerned about the “growing impact” of organized retail crime. Specifically, the letter addresses the sale of stolen and counterfeit merchandise.

The signatories, representing apparel, electronics, health and beauty, home improvement, and general merchandise sectors, urged lawmakers to pass the INFORM Consumers Act, legislation designed to modernize consumer protection laws to safeguard against the sale of illicit products.

"Retailers have made significant investments to combat organized retail crime, but as they note in today's letter, criminals will continue these brazen thefts as long as they are able to anonymously sell their stolen goods via online marketplaces," said RILA President Brian Dodge. “Fortunately, there is a growing consensus among business leaders, law enforcement, and a bipartisan group of policymakers that the INFORM Consumers Act is an important and appropriate step to stemming the tide. Deterring these crimes starts with making it harder for thieves to sell stolen goods online. We urge Congress to seize this opportunity to help protect communities, families, and consumers."

Retail CEOs who signed the letter include:

  • Ken Hicks, Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • Corie Barry, Best Buy Co., Inc.
  • Lauren Hobart, DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc.
  • Richard Johnson, Foot Locker, Inc.
  • W. Rodney McMullen, The Kroger Co.
  • Richard Keyes, Meijer Inc.
  • Erik B. Nordstrom, Nordstrom Inc.
  • Heyward Donigan, Rite Aid Corp.
  • Brian C. Cornell, Target Corp.
  • Steve Rendle, VF Corporation
  • William Rhodes, AutoZone Inc.
  • Neela Montgomery, CVS Health
  • Todd J. Vasos, Dollar General Corp.
  • Craig Menear, The Home Depot Inc.
  • Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Geoffroy van Raemdonck, Neiman Marcus Inc.
  • Ron Coughlin, Petco Animal Supplies Inc.
  • Anthony T. Hucker, Southeastern Grocers
  • David Kimbell, Ulta Beauty Inc.
  • John Standley, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Organized retail crime has plagued the country in recent years, and the losses from these large-scale thefts are costing American businesses billions of dollars annually. The stolen goods are frequently sold on e-commerce platforms where there is minimal verification of seller identities.

Major retailers have also been taking individual steps to counteract rising crime levels. During a recent earnings call, Best Buy CEO Corrie Barry said that theft is a growing problem at Best Buy stores.

"Across retail, we are definitely seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime," Barrie told analysts. "This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable. We are doing everything we can to try to create as safe as possible environments."

Barry said Best Buy is deploying added security measures to safeguard employees and shoppers, including locking up more merchandise (while still making for a good customer experience) and hiring security personnel where appropriate. 

In addition, e-commerce retailers including eBay, Poshmark, and Amazon have all taken steps to authenticate products sold via their platforms.