Shoplifting Crisis Negatively Affecting Businesses Across the U.S.


shoplifting-crisis-negatively-affecting-businesses-across-the-u-s

A rise in shoplifting incidents is threatening small businesses across the U.S.

For example, Baltimore County police were reportedly called to the same block as the now-closed Walmart in Towson over 300 times throughout 2023, as reported by Fox Baltimore. This represents a 149 percent increase between 2021 and 2024.

Mohsin Ali, the owner of APlus Convenience Store in Towson, told Fox Baltimore, “We have to be mentally prepared for anything. As a businessman, you don’t want to be afraid of fighting somebody all the time.”

It’s a similar story in many other cities, with business owners often reporting organized groups of juveniles and people simply taking items and leaving quickly.

Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and a spokesperson for the Five Boro Jobs Campaign in New York City told The City, “The problem is widespread. Small businesses have become fearful of people coming in their doors, especially young adults.”

To fight the influx of shoplifting incidents, New York City recently launched a pilot initiative where people caught stealing are given trespass notices. This means they can be arrested if they return to the same store. Though 329 people have been served notices from 312 participating businesses in Queens, many business owners say the initiative is not enough.

In fact, New York City has seen the largest increase in shoplifting between 2019 and 2023, according to the Council on Criminal Justice, which studied statistics from 24 metropolitan areas. In that time frame, NYC experienced an increase of 64 percent, with Los Angeles close behind at 61 percent.

Overall, retail businesses lost $121.6 billion to retail theft in 2023, according to research from Capital One Shopping. And projections suggest that shoplifting could cost retailers over $150 billion in 2026.

It’s gotten so bad in some areas that some business owners are even taking to social media to shame alleged shoplifters, feeling it is their last resort.

The rise in shoplifting is a complicated problem for cities, first responders, and government officials to consider. It’s not one that business owners can solve on their own. But it is a reality of operating in this industry in many locations. So businesses in this niche and those thinking of starting should understand the challenge and look for ways to advocate for positive change in their communities.

Image: Depositphotos



Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.