The nation’s largest supermarket retailer, The Kroger Co., has become a member of the Buy Safe America Coalition, an interindustry group that supports initiatives to prevent organized retail crime and the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.
In announcing its new member yesterday, Washington, D.C.-based Buy Safe America said Kroger has been “at the forefront” of efforts to thwart organized retail crime (ORC) and fields a dedicated crime unit to investigate illicit activity.
Kroger has initiated more than 2,000 ORC cases, according to Buy Safe America, whose partners include retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers and law enforcement. The Cincinnati-based grocery retailer also trains hundreds of thousands of its associates to better understand and identify organized retail crime, the coalition said.
“As retailers nationwide continue to battle organized retail crime, Kroger looks forward to partnering with the Buy Safe America Coalition to put an end to this public safety risk,” Mark Stinde, vice president of asset protection at Kroger, said in a statement. “We are proud to support the coalition’s efforts to pass the INFORM Consumers Act, which will bring much-needed accountability to online marketplaces filled with goods stolen from store shelves.”
Overall, The Kroger Co. operates about 2,750 stores under banners such as Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, Mariano’s, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less and Foods Co. The company totaled sales of $132.5 billion for its 2020 fiscal year ended Jan. 30.
Buy Safe America noted that incidence of ORC — namely, the sale of fraudulent goods — has skyrocketed with the growth of e-commerce and online marketplaces operated by such companies as Amazon and Facebook. Citing recent data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the coalition reported that the sale of fake goods alone has swelled into a $509 billion criminal enterprise. This activity has enabled counterfeit, expired and defective products, items made with unsafe levels of chemical substances, and products not meeting U.S. quality and safety standards to flood the market, especially in online channels. Retailer employees also have faced escalating risk as ORC rings “become increasingly violent and brazen,” Buy Safe America said.
The INFORM (Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces) for Consumers Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year, aims to combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and potentially dangerous consumer products through the verification of high-volume, third-party sellers in e-commerce marketplaces.
Besides Kroger, retail members of the Buy Safe America Coalition include CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite Aid, The Home Depot, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap, JCPenney, Lowe’s and Ulta Beauty, as well as industry groups such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW).