The Sky Is Falling: Why Do We Celebrate Bad News?

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in our industry that puzzles me.  It seems we believe the best way to get additional attention, funding, and staffing is to celebrate failure or bad news.  A headline in the recent Security Director News, a publication that I think does a great job, reads, “Industry agrees, it’s no surprise shrink is up.”  It details the preliminary NRSS results which show an increase in shrink from 1.44% to 1.52%.  Article after article in the mainstream media highlight “increased shoplifting,” “economy forces employees into theft,” and the like.

It’s not just theft and shrinkage that gets highlighted.  One industry website highlights how many people in our industry have been laid off and how many LP positions have been eliminated.  I’m sure it is not intended to sound gleeful, but that’s how it strikes me.  It reminds me of the way Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee at the time, got a lot of negative reaction to his almost celebratory attitude when bad news came out of Iraq during the early days of that conflict.

But, wait a minute.  There are lots of success stories happening in our industry despite the economy.  I’ve talked to a number of retail loss prevention executives who have come in with outstanding shrink results – some of them with all-time lows in their company.  Many other organizations have come in with reduced shrink dollars even though the percentage might be up due to 10, 20, or even 30% reductions in comp sales.  What about the NRSS results?  Keep in mind that 1.44% was an all-time low for the survey and the the 2008 figure of 1.52% is near the bottom of the range over the years Dr. Hollinger has been conducting the survey.

As for staffing and personnel issues, there is no doubt there have been reductions and position eliminations and it has had an impact on many of our colleagues.  Yes, some senior executive positions have been “eliminated” but some of those are through consolidations within the industry.  The good news is that there is some activity occurring within the industry, especially at the District and Regional positions and there are some great candidates out there hungry for the opportunity.

I’m not trying to be a Positive Polly here, but I do think we need to consider the face we present to the retail industry.  Do we want to play the part of Chicken Little or do we want to emphasize what we can and do contribute to our individual organizations and the retail industry as whole?

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