Retail theft has taken over the grocery conversation recently, and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of it diminishing.
Recently, Target CEO Brian Cornell took time out of the retailer’s financial earnings call to describe the magnitude of Target’s theft problem — which looks like some $500 million in lost profit for Target in 2023.
Walgreens Boots Alliance admits it over-hyped retail theft in 2022, but the pharmacy retailer believes it is now on the right path. During Walgreens’ Q1 earnings call last week, Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said inventory shrinkage was at 3.5% of sales last year, but now sits at around 2.5%. Relying more on police officers instead of private security guards has helped, and then there is a newly designed store in Chicago — a prototype for store design that deters crime.
The store is located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, an area downtown which has seen an uptick in crime.
Most of the store’s merchandise is located behind the counter, and workers are responsible for pulling items for shoppers, according to reporting from local news group Block Club Chicago. Store patrons use kiosks to shop digitally, and when their order is ready, everything is then paid for at the register. Two aisles containing “essential” items are still accessible by shoppers.
Signs are posted near the front of the store encouraging people to “place your order and relax” and “let us [the staff] do the shopping.”
Walgreens says it wants to use new technologies and practices to “enhance the experiences of our customers and team members,” the company told Fox Business.
According to a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) study, stolen goods from stores resulted in $94.5 billion in losses in 2021. In 2020, the figure was $90.8 billion. In addition, almost 33% of the companies that were surveyed said they were much more concerned about retail theft now than in years prior.
The NRF released another report last month looking at 132 crime groups and their booster operations over the last eight years. The analysis showed that 16% used at least one violent tactic (smash and grab, use of weapons, battery, flash mob tactics, threats of violence) in stores.
Violence was so bad for a Whole Foods store in San Francisco the company, owned by Amazon, decided to temporarily close the flagship operation. The 65,000-square-foot Whole Foods store opened last year at Trinity Place in the city’s Mid Market neighborhood.
Whole Foods said it opted to close the location to “ensure worker safety,” according to reporting from ABC. The retailer additionally said that all of the employees would be transferred to nearby locations.