Top Retailers Say Theft Has Reached Historic Highs

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December 7, 2022

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC Tuesday that theft is "higher than what it has historically been." Walmart is just one of several top retailers reporting concerning levels of retail theft.

The National Retail Federation in September reported the total losses from shrink—a retailer term for theft and other inventory loss—reached $94.5 billion in 2021. Retail crime incidents rose an average of 26.5 percent last year, Fox Business reports. Retailers like Walmart, Target, and Rite Aid note particular problems in storefronts in urban locations, where liberal leaders push soft-on-crime policies.

McMillon told CNBC if authorities being lax on prosecuting theft isn't "corrected over time," then "prices will be higher and/or stores will close."

"I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it," McMillon said.

Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan noted in a September earnings call that her chain experienced "unexpected headwinds" from shrink, "particularly in our New York urban stores." The company saw a $5 million increase in shrink this year, according to CFO Matt Schroeder.

"This is an industry-wide problem that is often driven by criminal networks, and we are collaborating with multiple stakeholders to find industry-wide solutions," Target’s CFO Michael Fiddelke told investors in mid-November. Target's year-to-date shrink "has already reduced our gross margin by more than $400 million versus last year, and we expect to reduce our gross margin by more than $600 million for the full year."

Home Depot has "been doing more physical security," Vice President of Asset Protection Scott Glenn told Fox Business, "and innovating some new tools and technologies to make it a little bit harder for the bad guys and girls to steal products."