Commercial Facilities Sector: Retail

The Retail sub-sector encompasses a range of commercial facilities, from strip malls to enclosed large-scale shopping malls. Commercial retail locations are soft targets in that they operate with open access, have minimal security, and allow the general public to move throughout them freely.

In addition to standalone locations, retail facilities of varying sizes are located in other commercial venues, such as transportation hubs, hotels, resorts, and office buildings.

According to the National Retail Federation, there are more than 106,000 retail establishments in New Jersey, supporting about one million jobs.


Terrorism: Moderate
Foreign terrorist organizations will likely continue to plot or encourage attacks on soft targets in the West, including retail establishments, because of limited security and large crowds. In September 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, injuring 20. Since May, attacks in the Retail sub-sector were mostly conducted using small arms such as knives and guns.

In March 2011, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language magazine Inspire encouraged followers to attack Western interests, and it suggested local targets such as “a busy shopping mall.” In September 2013, al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida affiliate in Somalia, attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Kenya, killing 67 people.

Cyber: Moderate
The Retail sub-sector remains vulnerable to profit-motivated theft of customer data, particularly small to midsize businesses that lack cybersecurity resources to prevent, detect, and mitigate threats. Despite the introduction of Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) technology in the United States, also known as chip-and-PIN, a majority of point-of-sale terminals have yet to be updated or replaced to complete secure EMV transactions. Additionally, the rapid integration of multiple devices into company networks will increase opportunities for unauthorized access.


The NJOHSP Hometown Security Initiative provides private sector and community partners with resources to protect their facilities and patrons. The initiative increases resiliency and security across New Jersey by incorporating businesses and their employees in their communities’ security.

NJOHSP’s resource sheet provides information for large outdoor gatherings, nightclubs and entertainment, religious facilities, and shopping centers and malls.

NJOHSP’s Active Shooter Response resources include potential indicators of, and protective measures for, workplace violence.

The US Department of Homeland Security updated the Commercial Facilities Sector-Specific Plan, which is an annex to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. The updates include aligning sector goals with the Joint National Priorities to strengthen critical infrastructure and build enhanced response and recovery capabilities. 

Intelligence Gaps

  • What new methods are terrorists developing to attack the Retail sub-sector?
  • How are closed-circuit television and other devices being leveraged as intrusion points into companies’ networks?
  • How are companies monitoring and increasing the security of these devices?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at