Retail behemoth Target has revealed its intentions to shut down nine stores across four states as a response to the rising occurrences of theft, violence, and organized retail crime. These closures are slated to occur in late October.
Among the impacted locations, three are situated in California’s Bay Area, three in Portland, Oregon, two in Seattle, Washington, and one in New York City. It’s noteworthy that all these stores are located in cities with Democratic governance, although Target has not explicitly articulated this correlation.
On the same day that Target disclosed its store closure plans, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the largest trade association within the industry, unveiled statistics. According to the NRF, retail shrinkage, a term encompassing both external and internal theft, surged to $112.1 billion in 2022, marking a notable uptick of approximately 1.6%. Additionally, the NRF acknowledged a rise in violent incidents within stores, although specific figures were not provided.
Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, disclosed a concerning statistic, indicating that violent assaults against store employees witnessed a sharp uptick of 120% in the first half of this year when compared to the entire preceding year.
There has been speculation, including input from law enforcement, suggesting that the surge in retail theft may be attributed to recent no bail policies and criminal justice reforms. Under these policies, individuals caught for shoplifting are not subject to incarceration, regardless of the frequency of their offenses.
The impact of rising theft and violence on employees extends beyond large corporations like Target. In a recent development, approximately 200 small business proprietors in Oakland, California, took the drastic step of closing their establishments for a day as a form of protest against the surging crime rates in the area.
Carl Chan, the President of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, urgently appealed for assistance from the city, emphasizing that both retailers and shoppers no longer feel secure in the vicinity. Alarming statistics from the Oakland Police Department reveal a 76% increase in commercial burglaries from 2021 to 2022.
Despite the store closures, Target will maintain a presence with 150 stores across the country.