Breaking News in the Industry: September 11, 2017

Looters caught on local news cameras arrested by Fort Lauderdale police [Video]

Police in Fort Lauderdale arrested nine people caught by local news cameras looting Fort Lauderdale business despite the dangerous winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Irma. The video showed a group breaking into the Simon’s Sportswear store. The groups of looters broke through the front window and were seen walking in and then walking out with stolen items. They then began looting a Foot Locker and Cash America Pawn store in the same area.  Hours later, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department announced that the criminals had been arrested. “Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice,” Fort Lauderdale police Chief Rick Maglione said. “Stay home and look after your loved once and be thankful they are all safe.” Six adults and three teenagers were arrested.

The adult suspects were identified as Kenneth Pinkney, Zara Dumornay, Tyrell Pratt, Teonhki Robinson, Michael Brown and Rossano Henry Jr. They face charges of burglary during a natural disaster. The Broward Sheriff’s Office immediately reacted to the report, posting on Twitter: “ATTENTION LOOTERS; Every incident will be investigated. Evidence collected will be used to pursue charges after the fact.” Meanwhile, the Pembroke Pines Police Department issued a stern warning: “Any looters who come to Pembroke Pines will be greeted by our officers. Choose wisely and stay home.” South Florida law enforcement officials promised to police the streets to prevent looting, but with unsafe winds pummeling the region, police were discretionary to ensure the safety of officers.  [Source: Local10 News]

After stealing more than $66,000, former employee gets prison and order to repay

A former Bishop Animal Shelter employee in Florida who stole more than $66,000 took a plea deal and was sentenced to two years in prison. Gail Lynne Judah, 48, pleaded no contest to scheming to defraud more than $50,000 as she was initially charged. As part of a plea deal, Judah was sentenced to two years in prison followed by 15 months probation. As part of the deal, Judah was ordered to pay full restitution. “I truly believe that she is going to pay for what she’s doing,” Bishop Director Keith Pratt told the Herald on Wednesday. “We are very happy that this has come to an end and the full restitution was ordered.” Judah was fired from Bishop when the missing money was discovered. After conducting it’s own internal investigation, Bishop approached the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office with evidence of the stolen money.

Bishop’s paperwork revealed cash missing from donations and adoptions from 2008 through 2015. During that time, Judah was the only employee with access to proceeds from donations and adoptions. In the wake of Judah’s arrest, Bishop changed its policies and procedures on how it processes adoptions and donations. “We have checks or balances now and it takes two to three people … to ensure that this never happens again,” Pratt said. Judah, who had been out on a $50,000 bond, was remanded into the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office custody following the hearing to be later transported to the Department of Corrections. After Judah is released from prison, she will be prohibited from working in dealing with money.[Source: Bradenton Herald]

Here is how Hurricane Irma is set to impact retail in the Southeast

A spike in sales for some companies will be offset by sales lost to store closures and the cost of any resulting physical damage. Retailers that sell apparel and discretionary items will be most negatively impacted, according to Cowen & Co. Home improvement retailers should benefit in Irma’s aftermath, analyst Oliver Chen said. Hurricane Irma poses a mixed bag of good and bad for retailers across the Southeast. Sales are expected to surge for grocers, home centers and mass merchants ahead of the storm, Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen wrote in a Friday note to clients. This would — at least in the short term — positively impact names like Walmart, Target and Costco within the region. Walmart has 8 percent of its fleet in Florida, or 375 facilities. Costco has 23 stores in the state, and Target operates 122 locations there, according to recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To be sure, a spike in sales will be offset by stores closing their doors and any resulting physical damage. Walmart, for example, has already announced the temporary closing of more than 20 facilities in Florida.

Chen noted that Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, had a negative 1 cent per-share impact on Walmart’s earnings for that quarter. Target has also said it anticipates closing additional stores in affected areas this upcoming weekend. In total, the potential economic impact from lost retail sales in the “consumer/retail” sector is expected to be $1.45 billion, according to weather analytics firm Planalytics. Chen expects the most negatively impacted retailers to include those that sell apparel and discretionary items. Retailers in malls “are unlikely to recapture lost sales,” he added. This would include companies like Gap, American Eagle and J.Jill. Home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, and Restoration Hardware parent RH, should benefit in Irma’s aftermath, as houses are rebuilt, the Cowen and Co. analyst added. “On a simple basis, retailers that sell items which customers need such as food and water and home improvement items are better positioned vs. retailers that sell discretionary fashion that’s not “deep-value.”  [Source: CNBC News]

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Pair accused of shoplifting fled after pointing gun at AP specialists

A woman who allegedly pointed a gun at a San Antonio store’s asset protection specialist last month to secure the release of a man who was stopped for shoplifting is still at large, according to authorities. Police are asking for the public’s help to identify and find the pair. The incident reportedly occurred at Target, in the 2800 block of Southwest Military Drive.  Asset protection at the store stopped the couple after seeing the two attempt to leave without paying for some items, officials said. As they detained the man, he took out a handgun and handed it to the woman, police said. The woman reportedly the pointed the gun at the AP specialists. In fear of their lives, the employees released the man, police said. Both suspects then fled eastbound on Southwest Military Drive in a 4-door sedan, police said.  [Source: mySA]

Man arrested after alleged shoplifting and assault on employee

Police Chief Alan Gordon, Westborough, Massachusetts, Police released a statement reporting that on July 31st, at approximately 6:18 PM, the Westborough Police responded to the Target store on Rte. 9 for a reported shoplifting and a subsequent slashing of the arm of a loss prevention associate. The investigation revealed that a male suspect was stealing baby formula. He was confronted by loss prevention in front of the store. The suspect swung at the employee with a box cutter slashing his arm. The employee was treated by Paramedics from the Westborough Fire Department and was transported to U. Mass Medical for treatment. The investigation was coordinated through the Worcester and Northborough Police Departments. Northborough had a shoplifting at Wegmans days before the incident at Target. On August 29, the Worcester Police were able to locate and arrest the suspect at a drug treatment facility in their city. The suspect was identified as Thomas P. Millott age 33 who was listed as homeless. In his possession at the time of his arrest, Worcester Police located a box cutter similar to the weapon used to slash the arm of the Target employee. Millott was charged with Assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and shoplifting[Source: Community Advocate]

US businesses spend $2.66 to combat every dollar of fraud

LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, a unit of RELX Group, released its 2017 LexisNexis® True Cost of FraudSM report. New for 2017, the study has expanded beyond the retail space to explore the impact of fraud on additional key sectors driving of the US economy: e-commerce, financial services and digital lending. Based on a survey of nearly 1,200 risk and fraud executives across industries, the study is designed to help merchants (retail and online/mobile), financial services companies and lenders grow their business safely even with the growing risk of fraud. Key to the report is the LexisNexis Fraud MultiplierSM, which estimates the total amount of loss a business incurs, based on chargebacks, fees, interest, merchandise replacement and redistribution. This year, every dollar of fraud to merchants and firms in these sectors is estimated to cost $2.66 on average. For organizations selling digital goods and / or primarily transacting through remote channels, the cost is estimated to be even higher, at $3.48 per dollar of fraud, on average.

The study also investigates fraud costs as a percentage of revenues, as reported by survey respondents, to be nearly 2 percent (1.90 percent) across retail, e-commerce, financial services and digital lending businesses. Businesses that sell digital goods and / or conduct transactions primarily through remote channels take an even harder hit to their bottom line at 2.51 percent of revenues. “For every $1 of fraud, businesses incur on average $2.66 or roughly two and a half times the actual loss itself. This accounts for nearly two percent of these businesses’ annual revenues,” said Paul Bjerke, vice president, fraud and identity management strategy, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “While two percent may not sound significant, the impact can be tremendous when you’re talking about a multi-million dollar company. Businesses need to be aware of the issue and proactive measures they can take to protect their bottom lines.”  [Source: Business Insider]

Gap to close 200 stores, expand Old Navy

Gap Inc. announced Wednesday a plan to close 200 under-performing Gap and Banana Republic stores over the next three years, according to a company release.  At the same time, the company plans to open 270 Old Navy and Athleta stores, which executives expect to generate $10 billion and $1 billion in net sales respectively in “the next few years,” according to the release. Gap also said it plans to make “continued significant investment” in fulfillment capacity, loyalty programs, personalization, omnichannel services, artificial intelligence and other data-driven efforts, all to boost a digital business that the company said has grown in the double digits. Gap expects store closures and other cost cuts to generate about $500 million in savings over the next three years. Gap’s announcement continues a story long in the telling: the slow decline of Gap and Banana Republic stores and the ascent of Old Navy. Despite recent relative improvements across the company, some analysts worry about Old Navy carrying the retailer’s overall business.

GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said in an August note that he remains skeptical of the company’s ongoing progress, noting that Old Navy’s continued strength is masking underlying troubles at its other brands. “Although we believe growth could soften at Old Navy as it starts to come up against tougher comparatives, we remain broadly confident about the brand,” he said in an email. Banana Republic CEO Mark Breitbard, tapped to take over the position in March, should be given time to turn that struggling unit around, but Saunders said there’s been little progress so far: “We see little progress to-date, with collections in stores still off-pitch and overpriced,” he said. “Ultimately, success comes down to having products people want and are prepared to pay for.” While Saunders is more confident about Gap than he was a year ago, he said he’s still skeptical that executives have the proper strategies in place to revive the overall business. [Source: RetailDIVE]



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