The Christmas trading figures are in, with total sales for the entire Christmas period – the second half of November and all of December – reaching $47.5 billion. This closely compares with the $48 billion that the NRA forecast for the Christmas trade period and is a record high for the Australian retail sector.
It’s easy to feel that your business’s daily turnover and individual issues aren’t particularly relevant when you hear these kinds of national numbers and even more so when you hear global data and trends, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say that this is far from the case!
Every retail business in Australia is important, relevant, and of value, and your individual challenges are something we take very seriously.
Take retail crime for example – each individual instance may seem ‘petty’, however combined, retail crime is not harmless – it disrupts operations, harms staff, affects customers and erodes profitability.
It inflates the cost of goods and services, which impacts the living expenses of Australians and the competitive viability of the domestic industry.
It may shock you to hear that this type of crime has diversified to such an extent over the past few years, that smallish theft in your business could be part of a global racket.
The issue has reached macro-economic proportions – Illicit goods are being sourced from one continent, trafficked across another, and marketed in a third.
Retail theft is now a transnational problem that threatens security, fuels corruption, infiltrates business and politics, and undermines governance by empowering those who operate outside the law.
But for individual retailers, reporting retail crime is a time-consuming, resource-chewing, complicated and a very frustrating process, and it’s hard to warrant the effort when you know how unlikely you are to get anything back, or even see the perpetrator reach the courts.
Most of you tell us that you don’t bother reporting everything that goes on, but imagine what the rate of underreporting must be when you multiply that across the entire nation!
We’re determined to do something about it, which is why we’re about to launch a very small (and free for participants!) trial area, using new and sophisticated information-sharing software called Auror, on the back of a successful roll out in New Zealand, where it’s helped curb retail crime dramatically.
When a retailer records an incident in Auror, it is fed into a pool of information that is shared by all participating retailers throughout the Brisbane CBD, and shared with CrimeStoppers – other retailers not able to use Auror can simply sign up for alerts and receive a pool of information to better protect themselves, and their valuable stock.
Participants in the NRA SafeCity Network will be contributing to a valuable pool of information and data on retail crime that will help both you and other retailers identify previous offenders when they enter your store, as well as providing the police with greater and more reliable information that will assist them in linking more information and cases together, and help in locating and prosecuting more offenders.
While it’s only in Queensland’s Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley as part of an initiative with the Brisbane City Council, this is something we’d like to take nationally if the trial is successful.
But to do that, we need all retailers in the trial area, large and small, franchise or independent, franchise or independent, to take part. And it’s free for everyone who signs up before the trial kicks off on March 1!
For more information, head to www.nra.net.au/safecity.
For those of you who don’t have any retail links to the Brisbane CBD, we want to hear from you on what your area’s issues with crime are – both evidential and anecdotal.
- What techniques are you employing that are working (or not working?);
- What trends are becoming more prevalent and what do you think is behind them?;
- How are you reporting (or not reporting);
- How are you working with your fellow retailers at the moment to share information?
Please keep in touch with us via [email protected] on what’s working, and what’s not, so we can continue exploring ways we can all work together, as an industry, to stem the flow of stolen goods.
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.