On Tuesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon warned that if shoplifting continues to be at its current pace in cities across the United States, he may be forced to raise prices or close stores.
McMillon's comments come as more and more retailers look to ramp up security efforts amid rising rates of theft and relaxed laws pushed by Democrats.
During an appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box, McMillon was asked about his thoughts on why shoplifting had become such an issue, and what could be done to curb the trend.
"Theft is an issue," he began. "It’s higher than what it has historically been."
He went on to explain that Walmart had put safety measures in place, noting that, "local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it."
Host Becky Quick reminded McMillon that thanks to a number of new laws that take a more lenient approach to fighting crime, many of the thieves are no longer eligible for serious punishments. "Does that matter?" she asked.
"If that's not corrected over time," he replied, "prices will be higher, and/or stores will close."
Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin drew attention to the numerous videos making the rounds on social media showing thieves nonchalantly packing armfuls of products out of shops while customers and employees watch helplessly.
Referencing one clip showing a burglary at an Apple store in California, Sorkin lamented the fact that employees had been told to "stand back and just let it all happen."
"Maybe that's the right decision in the moment," he suggested, "but maybe there's something larger going on?"
"That's right," McMillon replied. "It's really city by city, location by location. It's store managers working with local law enforcement and we've got great relationships there for the most part."
McMillon went on to call for "consistency" and "clarity" from lawmakers so that he and other businesspeople could make capital investments with a greater degree of certainty.
Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, with 4,720 stores across the country. In 2021 the company recorded $459.51 billion in sales.
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