January 17, 2024

Dive reporter drives industry change

It is rare to find the perfect intersection of buzzy mainstream media topics and in-the-weeds B2B industry coverage. But Retail Dive’s senior reporter, Daphne Howland, did just that late in 2023 with an explosive expose that redefined conversations about crime stats in the retail industry.

Howland was the first reporter in the U.S. to uncover erroneous numbers in a special 2023 report about organized retail crime from the National Retail Federation. Her tireless curiosity led to the story, Retailers have a crime problem. It’s in the numbers, – that has been captivating readers and the press ever since. 

Howland dedicated months of research to unpack and compare survey results and interview sources, covering the stats with a skeptical eye. As she dug deeper, the work blew open one of the biggest stories in retail last year and forced the NRF to retract its primary focal data point that nearly half of retailers’ inventory shrinkage is due to organized retail crime. 

The impact of this change was closely watched by Retail Dive’s biggest national print, digital and broadcast competitors and a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee subsequently called for better data during a hearing on organized retail crime. At a December hearing, a commission in California that is researching organized retail crime also discussed the retraction and need for better data at length.

While almost every other industry publication conceded to arguments inflating how problematic organized retail crime is and the overblown coverage around it, Howland’s story questioned the  status quo and had a direct effect on industry conversations.

Howland spoke to NPR’s On the Media and a NBC news program about her reporting. Her work was also cited by the LA TimesNew York Times,  Associated Press, CNBC, PBS NewsHour, and others.

Howland’s work represents not only the meticulousness and fortitude that’s constantly on display at Retail Dive, it encapsulates what integrity in journalism looks like. And she’s not done yet – be on the lookout for additional coverage by Howland questioning industry norms and pushing past convenient narratives to provide readers with the best possible information. 

From the Newsroom