The state of retail security with NRF’s David Johnston

Retail Gets Real episode 307: An inside look at current priorities and challenges in the retail loss prevention and asset protection community and what to expect at this summer’s NRF PROTECT
Sheryll Poe
NRF Contributor
May 10, 2023

Retail leaders dealing with loss prevention and asset management have never had to face as many comprehensive, complex and persistent threats as they are right now.

David Johnston
David Johnston, vice president of asset protection and retail operations at NRF.

From pandemics to geopolitics to high volume cyberattacks, global corporations and their security professionals face more operational, financial and reputational challenges than ever before, with increasing speed and magnitude, says David Johnston, NRF’s vice president of asset protection and retail operations, on this episode of Retail Gets Real.

The role of loss prevention and asset protection changed rapidly in the last five years and even more during COVID-19, he says.

“Loss prevention and asset protection is one of the few areas of the business that has probably the largest operational or tactical impact to the entire business. It’s at the physical locations and through the supply chain. It’s in the digital and ecommerce side. Now we’re getting into a lot of the political and the cultural, with the civil unrest,” as well as environmental health and safety requirements during COVID-19.

The industry continues to evolve, says Johnston, a 30-year veteran of retail security. “We’ve moved from security to loss prevention to asset protection. The way I view the industry now is, we’re at what’s known as the enterprise security risk management phase.”


Checkout the recap and learn more about NRF Protect 2023, covering insights and strategies on loss prevention, asset protection, digital fraud and cybersecurity.

Issues and solutions around loss prevention, asset protection, digital fraud and cyber risk will be delved into at the upcoming NRF PROTECT event. “We’re tackling the issues of today,” he says. “We’re talking organized retail crime, we’re talking workplace violence. We’re talking online digital fraud, cybersecurity threats.”

The event will focus on these issues from more than a U.S. perspective. “We’re really looking at it from a global perspective because the world is shrinking and retail is global,” Johnston says. “I can tell you we have attendees right now from eight different countries outside the U.S., so this is a great conference to support international networking and opportunities.”

Listen to the full podcast to hear about Johnston’s retail career path from selling athletic shoes to global loss prevention leader, NRF and K2 Integrity’s new comprehensive report on organized retail crime, and Johnston’s memories from his first NRF conference in 1998.

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