Store Closures and Security Ramp Ups: Target Takes Hit From Rise in Retail Crime

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
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Target store

Retail theft news has flooded headlines this year, quickly becoming a top concern for enterprises who are looking to keep consumers safe and products safeguarded from pilfering.

Amongst the companies being impacted are popular hypermarkets, with Target being the latest to take a hit.

The company recently announced it will be closing nine of its stores across four states in late October as a result of increasing instances of crime. These stores include:

  • New York City Market:
    • Harlem: 517 E 117th Street
  • Seattle Market: 
    • Seattle University Way: 4535 University Way NE 
    • Seattle Ballard: 1448 NW Market St, Ste 100  
  • San Francisco/Oakland Market: 
    • SF Folsom and 13th St: 1690 Folsom St
    • Oakland Broadway & 27th: 2650 Broadway
    • Pittsburg: 4301 Century Blvd 
  • Portland Market:
    • Portland Galleria: 939 SW Morrison St
    • Portland Powell: 3031 SE Powell Blvd
    • Portland Hollywood: 4030 NE Halsey St

The company will try to transfer as much of its staff to other stores as possible. 

“At Target, we take the decision to close stores very seriously, and only do so after taking meaningful steps to invest in the guest experience and improve business performance,” said the company in a recent statement. “In this case, 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.”

It’s not for lack of trying to protect against increasing crime. Target said it has been investing heavily in tech and strategies for preventing and stopping theft. However, the efforts proved insufficient in a few areas where Target felt it could no longer operate the stores “safely and successfully.”

[Read more: Target Cuts Full-Year Sales and Profit Forecast]

Among the tactics employed are cyber capabilities such as advanced threat intelligence to track crime groups, custom tools to detect criminal activity across online and in-store platforms, and data alerts and analysis of fraudulent activity. 

Additionally, the company has worked on training its store leaders and security team to de-escalate unsafe situations and protect themselves. Target also bolstered its security team with new hires from third-party services, and analyzed merchandise categories to identify vulnerable areas. 

    Other Efforts From Target
    • The outreach coordinator team connects guests experiencing hardship to community resources.
    • Target is supporting the recent passage of the INFORM Consumers Act, which gives marketplaces a larger role in combating the second-hand sale of stolen goods.
    • The company is advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress — a task force of federal agencies to crack down on theft and organized retail crime.
    • Target is helping to create Organized Retail Crime Task Forces at the state and local level to promote interagency efforts and cooperation.
    • Target is helping to host store walks with members of Congress, state legislators, city officials, district attorneys, law enforcement, and local community partners to educate on efforts to combat retail theft and organized retail crime, and advocate for solutions and cooperation.
    • The company is participating in National Store Walk Month, a new initiative with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National District Attorneys Association that seeks to address the urgent issues of organized retail crime and theft and its impact on local communities.
    • Target is partnering with national and local retail industry associations such as RILA and the National Retail Federation to fund advocacy and educational efforts like the Vibrant Communities initiative.

Competing retailer Walmart is another enterprise that has suffered at the hands of retail theft. As a result, it is adding a designated workspace for law enforcement officers to an Atlanta location when it reopens in May of next year. The store initially closed down because shoplifters set fires inside, following similar occurrences at a nearby Walmart and Target. 

"Walmart has a long history of supporting local law enforcement, and we remain committed to helping them be successful in the communities we serve," Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson told Insider. "We see efforts like what's being considered for our future Vine City store as a way to better collaborate with law enforcement and support the community."

Other recent incidents include a ransacking at a Macy's store in Arcadia, California, this past August where five suspects allegedly entered the store and made off with multiple boxed sets of perfume, according to CBS News. Additionally, police in Portland, Oregon, arrested over two dozen people just a day earlier as part of a sting operation targeting retail thieves, The Washington Times reported.

Safety aside, today’s retailers will also need to be more vigilant of shrink — not just from theft, but waste, human error, supply chain issues, and more  Retailer losses in 2022 amounted to nearly $100 billion dollars, of which organized retail crime is a significant driver, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported.

Learn more about shrink and retail crime

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