Former Home Depot CEO Unveils Reasons Behind Increased Retail Store Item Lock-Ups in 2024

Brick-and-mortar establishments waged a war on retail theft in 2023. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that losses from organized crime total $100 billion, with the majority of losses occurring in areas like San Francisco, Houston, New York City, and Seattle.

But before the new year, Bob Nardelli, the former CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler, issued a warning to big-box retailers and small businesses, stating that they should continue to lock up inventory since they anticipate more items being taken from shelves in 2024.

“Sadly, I believe there is still an issue,” Nardelli stated on “The Claman Countdown” on Tuesday. “When I was working with the Home Depot team when you lock it up, you tended to lose sales because it became a deterrent: a deterrent for the people who wanted to rob you, but also for the shoppers who wanted to look [at] it, touch it, feel it, and be able to check out, versus getting an associate, unlocking the crib and then bringing it to the register.”

Former Home Depot CEO Unveils Reasons Behind Increased Retail Store Item Lock-Ups in 2024 (1)

Early in December, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence of the House Homeland Security Committee convened a hearing with the topic “From Festive Cheer to Retail Fear: Addressing Organized Retail Crime”. In their testimony, current Home Depot executives and NRF representatives described “an unprecedented spike in retail crime.”

According to the NRF’s 2023 National Retail Security Survey, industry losses of $112.1 billion, or 1.6% annually, were attributable to retail contraction.

“We learn about the issues facing the large chains. We often overlook the fact that 98% of small enterprises are found in the retail sector. That is the foundation of our economy, and often those are ignored and suffer as well, NRF executive director of research Mark Mathews previously stated to Fox News Digital in December.

On Tuesday, Nardelli made the case that the no-chase or confrontation policies of many stores are fostering a “lawless society.”

“I was fortunate to work at Home Depot, where we installed cameras in every store and managed shrinkage. Our security team had a dark room where they kept an eye on stores with significant sales volume. However, at that time, stealing $1,000 to purchase a paint sprayer, nail gun, or other item and then leaving with it was illegal,” he stated.

“Until we get this lawless society under control, where we can arrest and prosecute, which we did when I was there in 2000 to 2006, we’re still going to see, unfortunately, having to secure more of the merchandise,” he said, “which stops the theft to a certain degree, but also prohibits shopping [and] quality shoppers.”

Mathews has previously stated that locking up merchandise is “far from ideal” for the health of the sector and that the NRF is actively collaborating with Congress to obtain legislation that effectively combats retail theft.

The consumer will find it less convenient, and there will also be significant expenses associated with it. The expense of hiring more security guards and installing deterrent measures to dissuade individuals from stealing is in addition to the cost of the items you’re losing to theft, according to Mathews. “It’s a major concern for us.”

Elizabeth Elkind of Fox News contributed to this article.

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