The Retail Fortress

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
3 March, 2023

Police Minister Stuart Nash was right about retail crime. Solving the problem, as he suggested, requires reducing the number of targets.

The government has already legislated to cut the number of tobacco vendors by 90%, in hope of reducing smoking.

Minister Nash suggested quickening the pace – as crime control strategy. We’d more quickly reduce the number of ram-raid targets.

But what targets the remaining 600 tobacco outlets will make! Each will have to stock huge volumes of cigarettes. They will need a lot of security.

Unfortunately, not long after retail licensing comes in, another set of rules will forbid selling cigarettes with nicotine in them.

And don’t look to National for help. National just wants to speed up the zero-nicotine rules, pushing tobacco sales from stores over to gangs and smugglers sooner.

When that happens, nobody will want to buy legal cigarettes, let alone steal them. So who would invest a lot in security in the meantime? One retailer’s security investment might just make other retailers the next target.

My modest proposal: Retail Fortresses.

To finally control crime, the government must forbid private brick-and-mortar retail outlets entirely. In their place, it must establish a network of 600 government-owned Retail Fortresses across the country. 

Customers would make their purchases using the Fortress’s convenient website and the easy-to-use RealMe login. Allowing customers into the Fortresses would only risk shoplifters having to be sharply admonished against trying that sort of thing again.

Retailers could still compete for customers on the Fortress’s website, in a regulated and monitored way, avoiding both profiteering and predatory pricing.

Prices would neither be allowed to be too low nor too high. Prices would be just right.

Customers would receive an allocated time to pick up their consignment of purchases at convenient drive-through windows. Times would be chosen not to pander to the ‘neoliberal’ individualistic wishes of selfish shoppers. Instead they would ensure the Fortresses’ most efficient operation.

If you’re allocated a 3am pick-up time, remember that it’s for the greater good.

SAS officers with assault rifles will ensure the safety and comfort of everyone at the Fortresses.

Please ignore rumours about muggings and carjackings as shoppers go home from the Fortresses, even if accompanied by video evidence. Good citizens know better than to listen to unsubstantiated, unhelpful disinformation.

The Retail Fortress is the only way to stop crime.

Minister Nash should have the courage of his convictions and see it through.

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