The National Retail Federation told a congressional committee holding a hearing on the terrorist attack at a Kenyan shopping mall that the safety of employees and customers is retailers’ top concern.
“Retailers face many threats; yet through a mix of technology, partnerships, preparation and training, retailers are able to ensure that they are able to respond to any threat,” NRF Vice President Richard Mellor said.
“Retailers are committed to continuously improving their vigilance in order to stay ahead of those who wish to do harm to their businesses, their employees and their customers."
Mellor, a former police officer with 40 years of experience in public safety, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing this afternoon on overseas attacks and the potential terrorist threat posed to “soft targets” in the United States such as shopping malls and movie theaters.
“While shopping malls have been categorized by some as 'soft targets,' it would have been hard to imagine or prepare for the devastating attack conducted by terrorists at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya last month,” Mellor said. “Collaboration and partnership between retailers, and law enforcement needs to remain strong and vigilant now more than ever.”
NRF leads the retail industry’s partnership with law enforcement, working with local, state and federal agencies on a series of loss prevention priorities, from developing “active shooter” guidelines with the Department of Homeland Security to responding to both man-made and natural emergencies. NRF has also advocated for legislation in Congress to make organized retail crime, which has been linked to funding of criminal and terrorist organizations overseas, a federal offense.
“Retailers have sophisticated protocols to deal with the threats from a wide range of situations, including organized retail crime (ORC) activities, robbery, active shooter incidents, impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes as well as being a potential target for a terrorist attack,” Mellor said.
“Because these threats are always present, retailers invest heavily to ensure that they are prepared to deal with any and all threats against their businesses, their employees and their customers. Moreover, retailers are consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their programs and seeking improvements. As criminals and threats become more sophisticated, so do retailers.”
As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans.