Retailers are facing increasing crime and aggression with an industry report deeming in-store violence as "rampant" throughout the sector.
Retail NZ's half-year report card, which tracked issues in the sector for the first six months of the year, reveals retail crime is getting worse in New Zealand and wage hikes and decreases in consumer spending are also weighing down the sector.
"Retail crime continues to be rampant across the sector and we are continuing to see increased aggression and violence in-store," the report outlined.
Dairy owners and those operating retail businesses perceived to hold more physical cash are increasingly becoming targets for retail violence.
In the year to April 30, there were 28,817 reported "thefts from retail premises", up from a reported 27,676 the year before, according to Police data.
Two weeks ago a mother and son working in Hylite Dairy in Grey Lynn, Auckland, were brutally stabbed during an unprovoked robbery, and earlier in the year a security guard working at a retail premises was killed on the job.
Crime in the sector has become a $1.1 billion-a-year problem, according to a study by Retail NZ and the University of Otago published last year.
The study found crime was costing retailers $514m a year on prevention.
Retail NZ chief executive Scott Fisher said the issue was getting worse, with goods often being stolen to order.
"Crime is a real issue across the sector, and getting worse," Fisher said.
"There needs to be a Government social change programme to encourage respect for people, property and the law, and the Government needs to act to ensure that there are real consequences for petty offenders in order to break the cycle."
Grey Lynn Business Association joint-chair Irene King said the working environment for retailers was challenging.
"There seems to be quite an aggressive element of the populous who for various reasons see retailers as a soft touch, either to uplift goods or extract money and retailers haven't had good strategies in terms of response," King said.
"You've also got commodities that are really highly desirable and easily resold."
King said many shops were inviting for criminal activity, particularly dairies.
"Retail layout, access from the road and the fact that a number of shops are blocked off from the street in the sense that they've got posters up on their street frontages; it is almost inviting less desirable people into the shop because they know they can't be seen."
Retail crime continues to be rampant across the sector and we are continuing to see increased aggression and violence in-store.
She said the issue was made worse by retailers often dampening down the scale of crime they had experienced.
"No one wants to get known as being a significant area for crime, and of course the more you talk about it the more the public perceives there is greater aggression going on, but in fact there's an underlying level of aggression and when retailers start talking about it all they are doing is exposing the issues which ultimately are one of the key strategies to addressing it," she said.
Retailers and shoppers in Grey Lynn had rallied around the Hylite Dairy owners with messages of support and flowers, King said.
Other issues in the sector, according to the half-year report, include increases to the minimum wage which were putting cost-pressures on operators and consumers having less disposable income to spend.
The report said domestic retail spending was almost static.
"Consumers are increasingly price-sensitive, and are squeezed by increasing household costs and uncertainty associated with the housing slowdown," Fisher said.
He said the sector was under "substantial and sustained pressure".