THE CEOs of Walmart and Target have both issued urgent warnings about store closures and higher prices amid a recent spike in retail theft.
The retail stores’ issues come about a year after Ben Dugan, CVS Health’s Director of Organized Retail Crime and Corporate Investigations, testified to Congress about theft being higher than normal, Business Insider reports.
At the time, Dugan said: “Criminal networks have taken
advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the steep rise in online purchases to prey on unsuspecting consumers by peddling counterfeit, stolen, defective, harmful, and potentially
“CVS Health alone has experienced a 300 percent increase in retail theft from our stores since the pandemic began.”
He explained: “Let me just be clear about what organized retail crime is not. It is not everyday shoplifting. It is not individuals committing singular opportunistic thefts for personal reasons.
“It is organized, it is sophisticated, and it is massive in scale.”
In 2021, organized retail crime events rose to an average of 26.5 percent, as per the National Retail Federation.
Now, the CEOs of Walmart and Target have also noted a rise in theft.
During a Target third-quarter earnings call in 2022, the company’s CEO Brian Cornell said: “Along with other retailers, we’ve seen a significant increase in theft and organized retail crime across our business.”
Last month, Target Chief Financial Officer Michael Fiddelke said he is planning to see profit losses reach $600million by the fiscal year’s end – also blamed on organized retail crime.
And about a week ago Walmart CEO Doug McMillon warned that if there is not a reduction in thefts, the company will need to close stores across the US, Business Insider reports.
He told CNB: “Theft is an issue. It is higher than what it has historically been.”
“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close.”
Although he said this may cause stores to close, no final decisions have been declared about any specific locations.
Meanwhile, police in Toledo, Ohio, have been called to a Walmart location on Glendale Avenue to handle thefts 11 times in the last two months, WTOL reported.
And at a Walmart location in Long Island, New York, a man stole more than $25,000 worth of jewelry last month, Patch reported.
Additionally, an employee allegedly stole nearly $13,000 worth of cash and merchandise from a location in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, over the course of five months earlier this year, WEAU reported.
At certain locations where theft is an issue, Walmart is taking extra precautions to protect its merchandise.
Products like shampoo, cosmetics and underwear are now kept under lock and key at some of the chain’s stores in Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We don’t discuss details related to illegal activity in our stores,” said Charles Crowson, Walmart’s director of corporate communications.
“We’re continually exploring effective ways to protect merchandise, keep prices low and provide a safe environment for the millions of customers we serve weekly,” he said.