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Officials gather to respond to growing concerns over organized retail crime

BY Michael Johnsen

NEWARK , Calif. More than 200 law enforcement, government officials and retail loss prevention professionals gathered here last week for the Northern California Organized Retail Crime Conference to tackle critical issues like organized retail crime, as well as provide a forum for concerned professionals to come together to support each other and discuss proposed legislation to combat the existing and ever-growing threat of ORC.

At the top of the attendees’ varied list of concerns was ORC’s impact on consumers during a turbulent economy. “We learned today that approximately 25 million workers, or 1 in 5 people, in our nation’s work force is related to the retail economy,” stated Dan Reynolds, vice president of sales for USS Corp., which hosted the event. “One aspect of this issue that consumers do not fully understand is that the cost of stolen items or the financial loss to retailers is not the only loss. When criminals steal in large quantities, which is the reality of organized retail crime, we lose sales tax dollars that could be used for law enforcement, schools, parks and roads,” he said.

In 2007, total dollars lost in California due to evaporated sales tax dollars was estimated to be $242 million.

The keynote speaker was California Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who has promised to re-introduce legislation that would impose more stringent penalties on those convicted of ORC theft. “This is a lot more serious than just shoplifting because of the organization and sophistication,” he said.

“Our legislative efforts need to start by redefining ORC as more than mere shoplifting,” Reynolds said. “Given the fact that we are in a harsh economy and that paychecks are smaller and smaller, we need to work with the legislature to protect our citizens.”

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Warner Home Video releases ‘Any Given Sunday’ on Blu-Ray

BY Mike Duff

BURBANK, Calif. The Oliver Stone-directed “Any Given Sunday” director’s cut makes its Blu-Ray High-definition debut Jan. 27, with the Warner Home Video release timing set to coincide with the Super Bowl. Starring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, James Woods, Ann-Margret, Dick Butkus, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor and Charlton Heston, the director’s cut includes commentary by Stone and Foxx, HBO’s “Making Of ‘Any Given Sunday’ First Look,” a gag reel and 14 deleted or extended scenes, along with a Jamie Foxx audition tape.

Suggested retail price is $28.99, and order due date is Dec. 23.

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Survey says consumers plan to reduce spending this holiday

BY Melissa Valliant

NEW YORK This season consumers are watching their wallet, shopping carefully and spending less than 10 years ago, according to a new survey by global business advisory firm AlixPartners.

AlixPartners Holiday 2008 Consumer Sentiment Index surveyed 1,000 consumers for their opinions on the economy and their plans for holiday shopping.

Forty-six percent of consumers did not foresee the tightening economy improving for at least three years. A majority—64 percent—of U.S. consumers anticipate spending less on gifts by: spending less on each individual gift (66 percent), “waiting for sales and specials” (60 percent), buying less expensive gifts (52 percent) and shopping at mass-discount stores (33 percent), with Wal-Mart and Target ranking high on the list of most chosen stores among the multiple-choice options.

“Consumers are going to be trading down in terms of which products they buy, in terms of how many products they buy, in terms of the brands they buy and in terms of the types of stores they shop in,” said Matthew Katz, head of AlixPartners’ Retail Performance Improvement Praactice and a managing director with the firm. “Department stores and specialty retailers, we believe, will be particularly hard hit; but no retailer is immune from this tidal wave that looks to be coming as an aftershock to the Wall Street crisis.”

Most U.S. consumers surveyed (87 percent), said that they believe the nation is in the midst of a recession or depression, with 20 percent stating depression.

And 74 percent report not trusting in the government’s ability to make drastic and efficient changes. Eight-six percent expect to spend less than $1,000 on gifts this holiday, 77 percent expect to spend less than last year and 37 expect to spend less than $250.

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