According to the National Retail Federation, retail shrink reached $94.5 billion in 2021, as compared to $90.8 billion in 2020. Shrink refers to inventory losses due to theft, unknown loss and administrative error. Retailers have characterized retail crime as an “epidemic,” and the issue has prompted some of the nation’s biggest companies, like Target, Home Depot and CVS, to invest billions in loss prevention and asset protection, including corporate investigators and security professionals. On the other side of the table, criminologists and criminal justice advocates worry that the story is not as straightforward as retailers and their advocacy groups are suggesting. Looking deeper, critics point out that not only is shrink difficult to track accurately, the methodology used in data gathering as it relates to retail theft is inconsistent.