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Target Blames Crime for Closure of 9 Stores

Retailer unable to successfully operate in crime-ridden markets
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Target Portland
Target will close nine stores across four states, effective Oct. 21.

Big-box retailer Target Corp. has decided to close nine stores in four states due to violence, theft and safety concerns.

The following stores will close effective Oct. 21 – eligible team members will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other Target locations:

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

According to a company statement, Target said that “we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime (ORC) are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance. We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all.”

During Target’s first-quarter earnings report, CEO Brian Cornell said that he expects overall shrink — driven mainly by theft and organized retail crime — to reduce the company’s profitability by more than $500 million this year when compared with last year. 

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Cornell told investors. “During the first five months of this year, our stores saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence.”

Before making the decision to close stores in four states, Target employed strategies to prevent and stop theft and organized retail crime in its stores, such as adding more security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across its business. “Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully,” noted the company statement.

Target said that it will continue to invest in efforts to keep employees safe.

Part of a Bigger Problem

Target isn’t alone in dealing with store closures and financial losses due to retail crime. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2023 National Retail Security Surveyaverage shrink cost retailers $112.1 billion in losses in 2022, up from $93.9 billion in 2021. The group said the the average shrink rate in 2022 increased to 1.6%, up from 1.4% the previous year.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds (67%) of retailers said that they were seeing even more violence and aggression from ORC perpetrators compared with a year ago.

NRF asked retailers whether they took any specific actions across their location(s) due to retail crime, social and/or physical disorder, or violence:

  • 45.3% reduced the operating hours of specific store(s)
  • 29.7% reduced or altered in-store product selection(s)
  • 28.1% of respondents reported closing specific store location(s)

A few months after revealing various strategies to stop shoplifting, Ahold Delhaize-owned Giant Food is now being forced to remove high-theft national brands from at least one of its stores.

A year after it opened as a flagship store, the Whole Foods Market at Trinity Place in downtown San Francisco closed its doors following incidents of increased theft and crime in the area.

America’s biggest retailer, Walmart, even had to shut down its own stores in Chicago and Portland, Ore.

To help combat theft and organized retail crime, Washington, D.C.-based NRF, along with other major retailers like Target, is advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress, which creates a taskforce of federal agencies to crack down on theft and organized retail crime.

Retailers are also participating in SeptemberNational Store Walk Month, a new initiative in partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) that seeks to address the issues of organized retail crime and theft and its impact on communities.

RILA and the NDAA are also looking to drill down on the root drivers of habitual theft, violence and other unlawful activity in and around retail establishments with its Vibrant Communities Initiative. Under the initiative, retailers will collaborate with district attorneys, police departments, social service organizations, local policymakers, civic and business groups, and other stakeholders, with the aim of enhancing information sharing, prosecuting habitual and violent offenders, proposing second-chance opportunities, and also exploring technology solutions that prevent retail crime and deter violence against employees. 

"We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor will there be an overnight resolution to the challenges facing retailers, law enforcement and local community leaders. But our objective is to identify effective approaches that can be shared and applied across the country to enact long-term, systemic change in how communities can tackle this challenge," Washington, D.C.-based RILA noted in a statement.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century.

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