Target closes 9 stores in Portland, Seattle, New York and San Francisco citing theft, staff safety

"We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
On Tuesday, retail giant Target announced in a release that it will shutter nine stores in Democrat-controlled cities across the US, in response to theft and organized retail crime, as well as safety concerns for employees and shoppers.

Target said in the release, "We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance.”

The company added, "Before making this decision, we invested heavily in strategies to prevent and stop theft and organized retail crime in our stores, such as adding more security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across our business.”

“Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully.”

The company is planning to close its location in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, two stores in Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood and University District, three stores in the San Francisco-Oakland area, and three more in Portland, Oregon. The stores are scheduled to close on Oct. 21.

Target has been vocal about organized theft in its 1,900 US stores while many other chains have been quiet on the topic.  The retail giant’s CEO Brian Cornell previously said organized retail crime had spiked at its stores and added that increased levels of shrink, an industry term used to describe losses from goods that were damaged, misplaced, sold accidentally at a discount, or stolen, is expected to reduce Target profitability by more than $500 million this year compared to a year ago. 

In August, Cornell told analysts that attacks on employees had jumped 120 percent in the first five months of 2023 compared with the same period last year.

Cornell said, “Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime. Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

According to the National Retail Federation security survey of approximately 177 retailers found that the shrink rate increase from the previous year totaled $112.1 billion in losses.

Additionally, the largest contributor of shrink, almost 65 percent, was the result of theft, and two-thirds of respondents reported more violence from perpetrators of organized retail crime compared with the same time last year.

As a result, the NRF revealed that almost 30 percent of retailers surveyed were forced to close locations, and 45 percent had to reduce operating hours and 30 percent reported needing to alter or reduce product selection in stores due to retail crime.

Target is still attempting to recover from a targeted boycott in response to the retailer selling items for Pride Month that encouraged children to identify as trans.
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