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    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    TJ Maxx, Marshalls have started using body cameras to combat theft

    Some employees at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods are now wearing body cameras, the latest effort among retailers to combat retail crime and violence against workers.

    The move, which parent company TJX disclosed in recent weeks, comes as retailers experiment with ways to prevent violence and shoplifting. Some stores have eliminated or limited self-checkout. Many have resorted to locking product in cabinets, banning large bags and backpacks, and limiting stores to one exit to better catch thieves trying to escape.

    The TJX initiative started last year, Chief Financial Officer John Klinger said during a call with investors last month. At some stores, workers focused on stopping shoplifters are wearing the cameras as a way of “de-escalation where people are less likely to do something when they’re being videotaped,” he said.

    The National Retail Federation says the root of the issue stems from organized retail crime rings that steal items and illegally resell them through online marketplaces. Among the 177 retail brands that participated in the NRF’s annual security survey last year, more than two-thirds said organized retail crime offenders had gotten more violent. About 35 percent of retailers said they were researching body-worn cameras, according to the federation survey, with some programs being tested but none “fully operational” at the time.

    It has been a more popular initiative outside the United States. Some employees at Woolworths in Australia and New Zealand started wearing the cameras this spring, and a handful of stores in the United Kingdom started their programs even earlier, including Tesco, Lidl and John Lewis & Partners department stores.

    But a report from the British Retail Consortium trade group found that crime and violence against workers increased last year, despite the rise in body-worn cameras.

    It is unclear whether the cameras have reduced theft at TJX stores so far. Klinger said he expects that shrink - an industry term for inventory losses from something other than sales - will be flat this year compared with last year. Net sales last year at the company, which also has stores in Australia, Canada and Europe, exceeded $54 billion, a 9 percent increase year-over-year.

    Klinger added that the company is still focused on “making sure that we balance protecting the goods with making sure that the customers can shop easily and get - and be able to buy the goods while also maintaining safety in our stores.” The body cameras can help with that, he said.

    A TJX spokesperson said the associates wearing them “have gone through thorough training on how to use the cameras effectively in their role.” They did not specify how many stores have employees wearing body cameras. The footage is only shared upon request from law enforcement or in response to a subpoena.

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