Department store Myer is collaborating with police forces to combat rising levels of retail crime. 

During an investor presentation last week, Myer CEO John King confirmed rates are "definitely way worse" than pre-COVID levels. 

“I'm not going to give too much away, because we have a number of things ongoing with various police forces, and also other retailers, but it's certainly one where we are all united," he said. 

“We've got to deal with this, and we need to deal with it in the appropriate way, and make sure that our team members are safe when they come to work.

“There's an awful lot of aggression out there, and we want to make sure that first and foremost our team members are safe and sound and that they're okay. And we will then attack it on a little more strategic basis, in terms of bringing it down.

“We are putting, as we said before, more coverts in [stores] etc, etc. So we will attack this over the coming months.”

The news came as the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) hosted its inaugural ARA Retail Crime Symposium; a roundtable discussion featuring a keynote from NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb APM.

According to the ARA, the discussion highlighted key priorities, including tougher penalties for assaults against retail staff in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

Better education on the impacts of retail crime as well as more informed data on retail crime were also priorities.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the surge in retail crime is heavily impacting dedicated frontline retail staff – many who are young and in their first job.

“Our retailers are working together with police and criminal experts as well as unions to protect businesses and staff from organised crime attacks and increased assaults as well as general theft,” Zahra said.

“Most of our members have seen an increase in retail crime and have had enough of the toll this is taking on their teams.

“It shouldn’t be the norm to be spat at, yelled at or punched for simply doing your job. Tougher laws, like those recently introduced in SA, NT and NSW, will better protect retail workers and keep them safe.”

A recent survey by the ARA across 102 retail organisations found that 91% of respondents have experienced retail crime.

Shoplifting followed by verbal abuse and customer aggression were the top three criminal activities experienced by retailers, while nearly half (47.96%) have seen an increase in organised crime.

Out of the respondents who have had to temporarily close their businesses, nearly 45% of those came from a small enterprise and more than 30 percent from major retailers.

Most respondents who said they have noticed an increase in organised crime were from Victoria.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the safety and well-being of retail workers is paramount.

“The ARA’s initiative to address retail crime is commendable, and we look forward to collaborating with industry stakeholders to find effective solutions,” Dwyer said.

“Our justice system also has a role to play in protecting businesses and staff. We have advocated for tougher penalties for a good reason – we think if enforced the new tougher penalties will help businesses immensely and reduce the pressure on police.”

comments powered by Disqus