Target, one of the largest retailers in the US, announced that it will close nine stores in four states by the end of the year due to increasing losses from theft and organized retail crime. The decision affects stores in Seattle, Manhattan, Oregon and Northern California.
The Impact of Retail Theft on Target and Other Retailers
According to Target, theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of its team and guests, as well as its profitability. The company said that it has invested millions of dollars in security measures and technology to prevent and deter theft, but the problem persists.
Target is not the only retailer facing this challenge. Retailers nationwide are cutting hours and tweaking inventory to reduce theft that reached 1.6% of sales last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The trade group estimates that retail theft costs the industry $61.7 billion in 2020, up from $50.6 billion in 2019.
Some of the factors that contribute to the rise of retail theft include the opioid crisis, the pandemic, the growth of online marketplaces that facilitate the resale of stolen goods, and the lack of prosecution and enforcement of shoplifting laws in some jurisdictions.
The Reaction of Customers and Communities to Target’s Closures
The announcement of Target’s closures has sparked mixed reactions from customers and communities. Some expressed disappointment and frustration, saying that they rely on Target for their shopping needs and that the closures will leave a gap in their neighborhoods. Others expressed sympathy and understanding, saying that they have witnessed theft and violence at Target stores and that the company has the right to protect its interests.
Some of the affected communities are also trying to find ways to prevent or reverse Target’s decision. For example, in Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan and other city officials met with Target executives to discuss the situation and possible solutions. In Manhattan, local leaders and residents launched a petition to save the Target store in East Harlem, which serves a predominantly low-income and minority population.
The Future of Target and the Retail Industry Amid Rising Theft
Target said that it will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate its options for each store. The company also said that it will work with its team members to help them find other opportunities within Target or elsewhere. Target operates more than 1,900 stores in the US and employs more than 350,000 people.
The retail industry, meanwhile, is calling for more action and collaboration from law enforcement, policymakers, and consumers to address the issue of retail theft. The National Retail Federation said that retail theft is not a victimless crime, but a serious threat to the safety and well-being of retail workers, customers, and communities.