A nationwide spike in organized retail thefts has prompted nearly half of U.S. small businesses to raise prices to offset losses, the Chamber of Commerce reported Thursday.
In a press release, the business lobbying group said 56% of small retailers responding to a new survey reported being shoplifted in the past year and 50% said they believe the problem worsened. As a result, 46% of small retail business owners say they had to raise prices.
“Retail theft is not a victimless crime, and its increasing prevalence means greater danger for store employees and higher costs for law-abiding Americans,” Neil Bradley, Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer, said in a statement.
Mr. Bradley said retail crime has gone beyond “traditional shoplifting” during the pandemic to include “highly organized criminal gangs who seek to profit by taking advantage of gaps in the law.”
Multiple news reports have emerged of crime rings increasingly walking into stores with sacks during business hours and stealing goods to resell online.
Earlier this month, Lower Paxton Township Police arrested five Maryland residents who grabbed bulk quantities of fragrances and other merchandise from an Ulta Beauty Store in an evening heist.
WPMT Harrisburg reported that the suspects, driving a black sedan with out-of-state plates, led police in a high-speed chase along Interstate 83 before crashing into a guardrail.
The Chamber of Commerce has called on lawmakers to crack down on the online sale of stolen goods, increase criminal penalties and prosecute shoplifters more vigorously to combat the trend.
According to Mr. Bradley, retail thefts now cost businesses about $700,000 for every billion dollars in sales, a 50% increase over the last five years.
The Chamber conducted the online survey of 750 small business owners as part of its third quarter Small Business Index.