Target has announced the closure of nine stores in four states, citing safety concerns related to theft and organized retail crime. The affected locations include one store in East Harlem, New York, and three stores in San Francisco. Additionally, three stores in Portland, Oregon, and two stores in Seattle will be closed. The closures will take effect on October 21. Target emphasized that it will still maintain a presence in these markets, with a combined total of 150 stores remaining open.
The decision to close the stores was described by Target as “difficult.” The company stated that the safety of its workers and customers is paramount, and it can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all. Target had previously invested in various strategies to prevent theft, such as increasing security personnel, utilizing third-party guard services, and implementing theft deterrent tools. Despite these efforts, the company faced ongoing challenges in operating the affected stores safely, leading to unsustainable business performance.
Target CEO Brian Cornell has been vocal about the rising issue of theft and organized retail crime. The company reported that theft has significantly impacted its bottom line, with estimated losses potentially exceeding $1.2 billion this fiscal year. Furthermore, incidents of violence against Target store workers increased by 120% during the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year.
The closures highlight the challenges faced by retailers in reducing theft while ensuring the safety of their employees and customers. Target’s decision affects communities that rely on these stores, particularly low-income and minority groups. For instance, the East Harlem store serves a heavily Hispanic area with limited access to quality, healthy food options.
The National Retail Federation’s security survey revealed that external theft, including organized shoplifting incidents, accounted for the majority of inventory loss among retailers. The survey also indicated an increase in violence and aggression from perpetrators of organized retail crime. Retailers have been forced to take drastic measures, such as store closures, reduced operating hours, and changes to product selection, due to the impact of retail crime.
In addition to grappling with theft-related challenges, Target has faced criticism for its LGBTQ+ support, particularly its displays of Pride Month merchandise. The company made adjustments to protect its workers after encountering hostility from certain customers.
While the exact financial impact of organized retail crime is difficult to determine, retailers across various sectors have reported rising theft as a contributing factor to shrinking profits. The issue has gained national attention due to high-profile incidents of smash-and-grab retail thefts and flash mob robberies.