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In Part 1 of this series, we presented the latest crime statistics including the pandemic impact and the recent trends on increased violence.   

In this final Part 2, we profile the criminals and their preferences. We explore retail crime scenarios with inflation and a potential recession. Finally, we summarize my thoughts (and yours) on whether retail crime is out of control and what we can do about it. The introductory picture is a big hint on the key answers.

The Who, What, and When in Retail Theft

From QuerySprout, let's start by profiling retail criminals:

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Part 1 of 2: Latest Retail Crime Statistics and Inflation--Recession Impact

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Late last year sensational ‘flash rob’ pre-holiday events elevated concerns with retail crime. “On Black Friday alone, a crew of eight made off with $400 worth of sledgehammers, crowbars and hammers from a Home Depot in Lakewood, Calif.; a group ransacked a Bottega Veneta boutique in Los Angeles; and roughly 30 people swarmed a Best Buy near Minneapolis, grabbing electronics.”

In the era of social media, these events and more led to riveting television coverage (NBC Bay Area).

It’s not too early during this summer to think about the upcoming holiday season. This is part one of a two-part series on retail crime trends. What has been the impact of the pandemic? How are violence patterns evolving? What are the profiles of the crime wave? How will inflation and a potential recession impact retail crime? If retail crime is out of control, what do we do about it?

Retail Crime Statistics

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RetailRock1

Global Retail Sales, E-Commerce, Physical Stores Trends, Challenges and Headwinds

As this rockin' picture reminded me, the retail industry, even with its current negative challenging forces, remains very vibrant. 2021 confirmed that we are all resilient consumers who will continue to shop our favorite brands. In May 2021, E-marketer forecasted that retail sales globally would rise 6% to just over $25 trillion, which was a significant comeback from 2020. By the end of year, 2021 global retail sales actually grew 9.7% reaching total spending of just over $26 trillion.

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2021 in-store sales grew a healthy 8.2% globally to just over $21 trillion which was more than was spent in 2019. “Pent-up demand from in-person shoppers accelerated the recovery by two full years.”

When this E-marketer research was published in January 2022, brick-and-mortar sales were projected to grow 2.6% to 3.4% for the remainder of the forecast out to 2025. More spending is expected in physical retail than ecommerce in 2022 ($702 billion versus $604 billion), despite its slower growth rate.

This article and this picture from a recent NRF trade event in Cleveland (Home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) are a reminder that retail does indeed rock. It includes some of my favorite statistics on the industry and some projections on where we go from here.

Ecommerce Spikes Have Abated

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With a Peek at the Top Global Technology Brands of 2022

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For quite some time, I have been predicting that the future of retail will be driven by stronger branding and increased digitally influenced immersive customer experiences. COVID-19 became a major accelerator of digital transformation trends with technology often becoming the differentiator to changes in consumer loyalty.

“The pandemic ushered in an unprecedented level of channel switching and brand loyalty disruption. A whopping 75 percent of consumers tried new shopping behaviors, with many of them citing convenience and value. Fully 39 percent of them, mainly Gen Z and millennials, deserted trusted brands for new ones. That restlessness is reflected in the fact that many younger consumers say that they are still searching for brands that reflect their values.”

This article summarizes the continued importance of branding focusing on the 2022 leaders as researched in one of my favorite annual reports from Brand Directory / Brand Finance.

Strong Brands Consistently Outperform the Market

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CentralStation

The Surprising Start of your Favorite LP Technologies

In Part 1 of this series, we explored the humble beginnings of department stores, supermarkets, and the first use of a bar code in a physical store. In Part 2, we expanded our innovation journey to discover the evolution and success of ecommerce, smartphones, and robots.

This Part 3 focuses on technologies that were originally invented to secure profit (cash register), property & high-risk areas (CCTV Camera), and consumer products (Electronic Article Surveillance or EAS).

Multiple of these originally envisioned security technologies transitioned into powerful data collection tools that optimize and increase the profitability of store operations. Great pleasure in one of my current roles to be working on next generations of multiple of the solutions in this series. 

First Use of a Cash Register

It might be surprising, but the original purpose of the cash register was to stop theft. The inventor was James Ritty, a saloonkeeper in Dayton Ohio. 

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The Surprising Start of your Favorite Retail Formats and Technologies

Can you imagine shopping in a retail store without bar codes or a cash register? In this first of a series of articles, we explore the evolution of retail -- from store formats to the continuous innovation and deployment of new technologies.

Who created the first supermarket and department store and how are these sectors performing today? From humble beginnings where are we today with technology innovations such as bar code scanning, the cash register, self-checkout, RFID, CCTV cameras, robots, drones, and much more?

As McKinsey recently summarized, “the pandemic has dramatically increased the speed at which digital is fundamentally changing business.”

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Fifty-one percent of companies are leveraging digital technologies, multiple of which are discussed in this series of articles, as strategic differentiators from competitors.

Let us start with store formats and that first consumer item scanned in a retail store.

The First Department Store

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NRFInnovationLab

Attending NRF 2022 in New York last week on multiple levels was surreal. Three live offsite events that I attend every year were either cancelled, postponed to virtual or had last minute changes in locations due to COVID restrictions. Flights and hotels were changed three times to accommodate weather challenges in the South and the evolving customer meetings scheduled for the Big Show.  

Multiple of the sessions that I attended had more people that I expected. Yet the main show floor was eerily empty of major exhibitors. Much innovation inspiration was possible by spending time in the busy innovation and start-up zones in the lower level. 

Turns out fewer major booths and quality time with retailers more than offset initial COVID concerns. NRF did a great job with masks, using Clear to validate vaccinations, and providing COVID test kits to increase safety. The Big Show on some levels was actually getting too big and 2022 was a refreshing opportunity to moderately transition to the next phase of retail as we continue to emerge out of the pandemic. 

Retail's Resiliency on Display in New York

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Amazon

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Jeff Bezos had a few amazing tricks up his sleeve as he originally wanted to name the company 'Cadabra'.  Amazon's first lawyer talked him out of it as the name sounded too similar to 'cadaver', especially over the telephone.  When the company was founded on July 5, 1994, Bezos settled on the name Amazon because it started with the letter A and its association with the largest South America River. 

Even though the original company focused on selling books online, Bezos' vision was always to become the 'everything store.'  Fast forward to June this year, Amazon is now the most visited e-commerce website in the United States, with nearly 2.5 billion monthly visits. To put it in perspective, that is more than the next six major retailers online traffic combined. 

"Beginning with booksellers, the e-commerce giant has expedited the closure of many retailers and threatens to redefine the standards of shopping in a digital world. Retailers are forced to lower prices, optimize their systems and processes, and reduce profit margins in favor of competition; meanwhile, Amazon continues its trek toward dominance. First coined in 2012 by Steve Weinberg, this is the Amazon Effect."

As we enter a new year, what is the status of the Amazon Effect?  Is next year the end of physical retail? What are the key strategies to win the future of retail?

The Amazon Effect is Here to Stay

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Good news this month as reported in the Wall Street Journal that USA retail sales in September increased 0.7% from the previous month and are running 13.9% ahead of same time last year. Bad news that one of the contributing factors to this growth is inflation which increased 5.4% in the same period.

On the retail sales front, we are well past the pandemic lows and growth has robustly returned. Call it "revenge spending" or pent-up demand, shoppers are once againUSARetailSept21 eagerly shopping online and in-store and looking forward to a positive holiday season. 

Contrary to this USA trend, retail sales in Europe slowed in August rising only 0.3%, after a sharp decline in July of -2.3%. The other very important global retail economy of China had August sales rising 2.5% which a deterioration from July's 8.5% increase. For the year, China's retail sales are expected to grow 15%. 

As we approach the critical 2021 retail holiday season, "uncertainty" seems to be the operative word. What are the latest holiday forecasts? Will Santa Claus arrive on time with all those presents? Will the Grinch steal Christmas?

Digital Retail Sales Influence Globally is Here to Stay

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While dealing with the Delta variant and continuing to recover from the COVID-19 health crisis, the hot days of August is a good time to ponder the economic and retail predictions for the balance of 2021.

The global economy is quickly recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with growth likely to approach 6% in 2021 and continue at 4.6% in 2022. However, while the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession has shown strong rebound effects, global output is still expected to remain as much as 2% below the pre-pandemic forecast up until 2023.

Brick-and-mortar sales generated over $18.5 trillion in the United States in 2020. After the past few months, I predict that we will see similar exciting changes across the retail industry starting in advanced economies. The USA National Retail Federation (NRF) raised their 2021 forecast in June and predicted that this year will be the fastest retail growth year since 1984. On the other side of the world, in an equally important large economy, China retail sales are projected to increase 14.7% in 2021.

The Steady Recovery of the Global Economy in 2021

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