Walmart CEO Doug McMillon warned Tuesday that a nationwide spate of shoplifting could lead the retail chain to raise prices for consumers to offset losses.
“Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been,” Mr. McMillon told CNBC.
Security measures, including guards or locking up certain items, vary from store to store. Partnerships with local law enforcement are also key to product security, Mr. McMillon said.
He blamed in part the variance in local prosecution of shoplifting. Laxity that allows shoplifters back onto the streets to further entrench the problem could cause higher prices, or even store closures, he said.
“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, or stores will close,” Mr. McMillon told CNBC.
Walmart is far from the only retailer dealing with the problems of retail theft. Target executives lamented over $400 million in theft-related losses in an earnings call earlier this year, as did RiteAid executives, citing New York City-area theft as particularly concerning.
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The National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey detailed the problems caused by retail crime, known as “shrink” in the industry.
“In 2021, that shrink represented $94.5 billion in losses, up from $90.8 billion in 2020. While retail shrink encompasses many types of loss, it is primarily driven by external theft, including
theft attributed to organized retail crime,” the organization’s report reads.
In addition, retail criminals have become more violent. The NRF survey noted that 35.9% of respondents thought that organized retail crime is “much more violent” compared with the previous year.