Breaking News in the Industry: September 26, 2018

Employee suspected in $100K jewelry theft

In Ohio, the Southern Park Mall JCPenney store suspects that an employee is responsible for the theft of about $100,000 in jewelry, according to a police report. The report, made with township police Thursday, determined that the theft occurred between this September’s inventory and last September, when the store last performed an inventory of merchandise.

The suspected employee asked questions about the inventory after it was completed, a store investigator told police. Almost $58,000 in gold necklaces were stolen along with other gold jewelry, the report said. JCPenney will pursue criminal charges should a suspect be identified.   [Source: The Vindicator]

Suspect runs from crash, gets caught by store employee and police

A Colorado man fled the scene of a traffic accident in south Colorado Springs and ran through a nearby office supply store Saturday morning, but an employee quickly jumped into action and held him until police officers made an arrest. The crash happened at S. 8th Street and Cimarron, and police say 28-year-old Jackson Reynolds took off on foot while carrying a baseball bat. Reynolds ran into an Office Depot on S. 8th Street while police searched the area, but one of the store employees noticed something was awry when Reynolds ran straight to an exit door on the side of the building.

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The employee told us that when Reynolds ran out the door, an alarm sounded throughout the building, and that’s when the employee went outside and held him in a bear hug until officers caught up to him. Reynolds was arrested and booked into the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. He faces charges of motor vehicle theft, hit & run, and other traffic-related offenses. No mugshot has been made available yet. Police said nobody was injured in the pursuit.   [Source: KRDO News]

Tariffs will be devastating for retail, trade group executive says

The new round of tariffs on Chinese goods will have devastating effects on retail and consumers, Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of retail trade group American Apparel & Footwear Association, told CNBC on Monday. “I’m surprised today the Dow reacted so modestly. People don’t realize the impact that this is going to have at retail. This will be devastating,” Helfenbein said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”

The latest round of tariffs targeting U.S. and Chinese goods went into effect Monday. The Trump administration levied tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese products, including furniture and appliances, with the rate set to increase to 25 percent by the end of the year. In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government said it would impose taxes on 5,207 U.S. imports worth about $60 billion.

The U.S. and China have already applied tariffs to $50 billion of each other’s goods — moves that threaten to derail global supply chains. The Dow Jones Industrial Index dropped 151.29 points to 26,592.21 on Monday. “This is not funny; it is not fun. We’ve got about half of the imports coming from China going to get hit with tariffs. They gave us six days notice for this,” Helfenbein said.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association represents more than 1,000 retail brands, including Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, Macy’s and Target, among others. Helfenbein said he anticipates retail to suffer and worries the tariffs will kick off a scramble by companies to get out of China and source alternative, cheaper production solutions.

About 41 percent of apparel, 72 percent of footwear, and 84 percent of travel goods imported into the U.S. come from China, Helfenbein said, and it will be difficult to account for that much production capacity elsewhere. Once companies start leaving China, Helfenbein said, “demand and supply don’t match, prices go up, sales go down, jobs get lost. This is a very difficult situation.”

Furthermore, if the economy weakens, Helfenbein said, consumers will no longer have the option of purchasing cheap Chinese goods — which often helps draw the economy out of recession. “Prices are going to go up, they are going to stay up, and any downturn in the market will be harder to recover from,” Helfenbein said.   [Source: CNBC News]

WATCH: Police officer resigns after ‘unnecessary use of force’ in shoplifting arrest

The Fort Collins police officer under investigation for his use of force during a March 29 arrest at Target has resigned following a recommendation for his firing. Video footage of the arrest was released Thursday evening. After an internal affairs investigation, Fort Collins Police Services Chief Jeff Swoboda said Thursday that the recommendation by Officer Todd Hopkins’ chain of command was for him to be fired. Swoboda was scheduled to have what’s called a predecision hearing with Hopkins on Tuesday, but the officer submitted his resignation effective immediately prior to the hearing and Swoboda’s final decision.

Swoboda said in an interview that when he first saw the footage, he was “disturbed” by the “unnecessary use of force” and what appeared to be actions that were inconsistent with agency training. Fort Collins police trains its officers to use “the least amount of force necessary to effect a lawful arrest,” he said. Hopkins was reportedly driving home from a shift March 29 when a shoplifting call came in at Target at 105 W. Troutman Pkwy. He was close by and was the first officer to arrive to the store. Because his shift had just ended, Hopkins was not wearing a body-mounted camera, which was charging at the police station.

Prior to Hopkins’ arrival, a Target loss-prevention associate was fighting with suspect Natasha Patnode, who allegedly shoplifted $419 worth of merchandise. Hopkins tried to arrest Patnode for several minutes before another officer arrived to help, surveillance footage shows. Hopkins grabbed Patnode by the collar and took her to the ground, used OC spray and sat on top of her as he tried to handcuff her while she had one arm either inside of or holding onto her purse underneath her. The officer struck Patnode with his fist and baton more than 50 times. After on-duty Officer Mike Natalzia arrived at the scene, he used a Taser twice on Patnode, body camera footage shows. After both of Patnode’s hands were behind her back, Hopkins uses his Taser on her, which can be seen about 8:15 minutes into the body camera footage.   [Source: Coloradoan]

Man allegedly chases LP associate with knives after being caught attempting to shoplift

An Oklahoma man was arrested by police after reportedly threatening an employee who stopped him from shoplifting at a metro store.
 The Oklahoma City Police Department reports that 28-year-old Edgar Munoz was arrested Sept. 23 on a complaint of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Just before 1 a.m. that day, officers were called to the Walmart SuperCenter at 3301 SW 104 Street to a disturbance. A loss prevention associate at the store met with police and said that he had observed a man, later found to be Munoz, attempting to steal a watch in the store. The LP associate approached Munoz and told him to leave the watch alone and exit the store.

Munoz was then walked out of the store. As he was walking away in the parking lot, he reportedly turned back towards the associate, brandished two knives and ran straight at the man. The associate ran into the store and was followed by Munoz. Shortly after, Munoz walked out of the store and towards a nearby Taco Bell. Police arrested Munoz in the parking lot. He was then booked into the Oklahoma County Jail.   [Source: Fox25 News]

Retailers offering perks to attract seasonal workers for the holidays

Amid low unemployment in the area and a major entry-level job fair coming up in Tacoma, retailers needing seasonal help are offering perks that include in-store discounts and enticements to lure workers.

Here’s a roundup:
▪ Gap: The clothing retailer is hiring 65,000 nationwide for Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta and Old Navy stores. “Seasonal associates will enjoy the same merchandise discount, wellness offerings and flexible scheduling as the company’s current associates,” according to the retailer. “Gap Inc.’s employee merchandise discount includes 50 percent off regular-priced merchandise at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores; 30 percent off at Outlet and Factory stores; and 25 percent off at Athleta stores.
▪ Kohl’s: It plans to hire 90,000 seasonal associates nationwide with its seasonal hiring day at select stores Oct. 20. A variety of positions will be available at its stores, distribution centers, e-commerce fulfillment centers and credit centers. According to its announcement, “Kohl’s offers competitive wages, a weekly pay schedule, an immediate 15 percent Kohl’s discount — which can be stacked with other applicable Kohl’s coupons — and special Associate Shop days.” The company also will provide a 35 percent discount that can be used at its stores and on “Associates also have the opportunity to be considered for open full-time and part-time positions after the season,” the announcement stated.
▪ Target: It will hire 120,000 seasonal workers for its stores, distribution and fulfillment centers. The retailer says it “plans to nearly double the number of hires to help fulfill digital orders compared to last year.” Perks include: a 10 percent discount at Target stores and; additional 20 percent merchandise wellness discount on fruits and vegetables and all Simply Balanced and C9 Champion merchandise; the chance to earn holiday pay on Thanksgiving and Christmas; and flexible schedules. Also, a new worker appreciation program will offer one hourly employee from each of Target’s stores and distribution centers the chance to get a $500 holiday gift card “and an opportunity to donate $500 to the local community organization of their choice.”
▪ Amazon: A representative said the online retailer will be hiring for seasonal positions, but there is no announcement yet on specifics.
▪ Walmart: The retailer will follow its previous staffing strategy. “For the past two years, we have taken the hours available during the holidays and given them to our current associates,” said Tiffany Wilson, director of corporate communications for Walmart. “There may be some hiring on a store-by-store basis, but the majority of our stores will be giving those hours to current associates.”   [Source: The News-Tribune]

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