Target has announced the closure of nine stores in cities across the United States, citing concerns over theft and organized retail crime that have endangered the safety of employees and customers while negatively impacting business performance. The decision reflects a broader trend of retailers grappling with increasing incidents of theft and organized retail crime, particularly in cities where progressive prosecutors have been reluctant to aggressively pursue shoplifting charges.
The nine stores set to close on October 21 include the East Harlem location in New York, as well as stores in San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Shoplifting complaints at the East Harlem location have surged by more than 40% since the start of the pandemic, with 665 complaints registered in 2022 compared to 468 in 2019. Similar concerns have been reported in other cities as well.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has faced criticism for his handling of shoplifting cases. While his office claimed a 14% drop in shoplifting complaints in the borough for the year, retailers like Target have cited ongoing challenges in operating their stores safely and profitably.
Despite investing heavily in strategies to combat theft, including increased security measures and partnerships with law enforcement agencies, Target and other retailers have found themselves facing persistent challenges. Organized retail crime has led to significant financial losses and placed employees at risk.
In response to the rise in theft and organized retail crime, Target has focused on training its employees and security teams on how to protect themselves and de-escalate potential safety issues. The company has also collaborated with the US Department of Homeland Security and advocated for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress.
While the closures represent a significant move for the retail giant, Target remains committed to other locations in New York City, where it has 96 stores employing over 20,000 people. The company is also planning to open a new store in Harlem, indicating its intention to continue serving the city despite challenges related to theft and safety.
The decision to close these stores underscores the complex issues facing retailers as they navigate the impact of organized retail crime, safety concerns, and the evolving retail landscape in major cities.