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Walmart Warns of Store Closures If Theft Continues

Unless problem is addressed through tougher prosecution and other measures, “prices will be higher and/or stores will close,” CEO says.




Credit: Sundry Photography, iStock
iStock, Sundry Photography

Shrink is growing at many retailers, including Walmart (Bentonville, AR), whose CEO says continued theft could lead to higher prices and closed stores.

“Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We’ve got safety measures, security measures that we’ve put in place by store location. 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.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, has plenty of company in dealing with increased theft. Target (Minneapolis), for example, recently said shoplifting has jumped about 50 percent year over and year, leading to more than $400 million in profit losses in this fiscal year.

Most of the shoplifting is organized theft, rather than petty theft, Target officials say.

When asked about how local jurisdictions should handle shoplifting cases, Walmart’s McMillon said a lax approach by prosecutors could impact prices and lead to store closures down the line.


“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher and/or stores will close,” he said. “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.”

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