People love stealing stuff from Target

Organized retail crime is crushing US retailers.

If Target’s mascot, Bullseye, were a real dog, he’d have A5 Wagyu beef for every meal and roll around in this $3.2m “Bugatti of dog collars.”

Chart of Target growth

Target ain’t exactly hurting is our point here — its average customer makes ~23 trips per year, spending ~$50 each time; sales topped $107B last year.

Yet we grimaced when we learned about Target’s growing inventory loss problem.

How much are we talking here?

Last fiscal year, the retailer saw $763m in “shrink”: loss of inventory, whether by accident or a deliberate act like shoplifting, fraud, or cargo theft.

CEO Brian Cornell expects Target’s inventory losses to balloon beyond $1B this year.

  • It’s not just Target — Walmart, Walgreens, and Home Depot also recently lamented theft increases.

What’s changed?

Organized retail crime is up. (Or, in Target parlance, up & up.)

“It’s not people shoplifting an individual item for personal use,” National Retail Federation president Matt Shay told CNBC. Stores, he said, are fighting “sophisticated” networks stealing throughout the supply chain — on docks, trucks, and railways, as well as in stores.

Efforts to limit secondary markets for stolen goods are underway; a law goes into effect next month requiring US online marketplaces to verify high-volume sellers.

It’s easy to blame criminals, but…

… retailers must also look inward; investing in loss prevention can, y’know, prevent losses — yet 68.5% of retailers do not have teams fighting against organized retail crime.

Perhaps that’s because external theft only accounted for 37% of lost inventory last year — employee theft (28.5%) and process failures (25.7%) were other major culprits.

Back to Bullseye: Listen, we’re not saying he’s running a crime syndicate, but does anyone else have a presence in all ~2k Target stores? Just saying, it’s a little suspicious.

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