Target blames "organized retail crime" for closure of nine stores in major cities

Originally published at: Target blames "organized retail crime" for closure of nine stores in major cities | Boing Boing


Sounds like the same story Walgreens was using when they closed a bunch of stores in San Francisco before they eventually had to backpedal:

Flashback: In October 2021, Walgreens announced it was closing five San Francisco stores due to “organized retail crime” in the city.

  • The following month, San Francisco Police Department data showed the five stores set to close had fewer than an average of two reported shoplifting incidents a month since 2018.

Sounds like they’d be easy to spot.


spongebob squarepants bullshit GIF


“average shrink,”

$93.9 billion in 2021

Hawaii Thats Cold GIF by ION


When it comes to “shrinkage” it’s usually divided equally between external thefts, internal thefts and poor inventory control.


It’s good they finally admit what they are. Confession is healthy.


Sure Jan GIF




What? Our corporate overlords lying??



I live within walking distance of one of Targets on this list. I can’t comment on the crime stats for this location, but I can tell you it is very odd for a Target FWIW. It is the smallest Target I’ve ever seen. It carries groceries, but not enough to do real shopping. It has very few housewares, a limited apparel section and downsized pharmacy section. It really doesn’t give you the “superstore” experience where you can find everything you would want and more. It was more like a glorified convenience store. We used as such, just getting an item or two for a quick drop in. For “proper” Target shopping we would drive out to a bigger Store at a local strip mall.


I was in a Best Buy this evening, went over to the Apple section thinking of getting an audio adapter for my new iPhone. Every single thing with an Apple logo either had a theft prevention device strapped to it, or if it was too small for that it was in a locked case. The adapter I was looking for was only $9, and it’s locked up.

I saw the same thing in Walmart & Target this week in their electronics sections. I also walked by the toy section in either Walmart or Target & about half the Lego kits were in locked cabinets; that wasn’t the case last Christmas.

I don’t know whether theft is really a bigger problem or not, but retailers sure are getting freaked out about it.

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These are called “City Targets” and are a relatively new thing. I live near two of them in Chicago, and they are nice, large c-stores. And there are two full-service Targets within just a few (>3 miles) of both of them.


I used to work in multi-channel commerce consulting (this was back in the day of the birth of buy-online-pickup-in-store) and the one thing I did learn from my clients is that they do not spend the money on anti-theft devices unless those things actually get boosted. They’re not cheap, they annoy the heck out of customers (waiting to get something unlocked, or a tag getting taken off at the register), and they give the appearance of the store being “low-rent.”

If a store is doing it, it’s because they have actual numbers to back up the need to dish out the cash for it.


Here in the UK, some stores will have electronic tags on items like steak and I’ve seen small vitamin bottles in those locked acrylic cases. Given the pain and slowdown they cause at the relentless march of self-checkout tills, there must be some cost-benefit analysis going on that they save more money than they cost in inconvenience and staff time.

There seems to be a sharp uptick in shoplifting on this side of the Atlantic too. Just a couple of weeks ago there was a big story about organised gangs targeting Oxford Street - being the 2020s, it was said to be part of a TikTok challenge.

Just a couple of days ago I was in Aldi and a woman with a pushchair demanded to be let through the closed checkout line as she hadn’t bought anything. Security demanded to check the pushchair and they were pulling dozens of items out from under the blanket and around the baby. She was shrieking and raging that they were upsetting the child, so sign of shame that she had boosted a lot of stuff.


I wouldn’t be surprised if all these closed stores are City Targets. While theft is a real issue across retail, this may just be an excuse for closing down a costly or failed experiment or poorly selected location while allowing the executives who approved it to save some face. It’s not like an MBA can make a mistake, after all. /s


I saw the same sort of thing in france a couple of years ago. Except the mother was buying a water bottle. The stroller had a blanket over it and was so weighted down, the wheels were crooked like it was a cartoon. She was yelling about her baby until security lifted a corner of the blanket - then pulled it off. There was no baby, but it was loaded to the gills with all manner of groceries.

The woman basically shrugged and walked out of the store, leaving the stroller behind. It was impressive all-around


See, things like that makes me think it just wasn’t super profitable, and that is the main reason.

Theft may be a factor, especially if they are worried about employee safety, but if they were making money hand over fist, they would keep it open. There is no way you can steal enough from Target to make it unprofitable.

Though I will note again that stealing from big box stores can fuck over the employees - or at least it used to, this was like 25 years ago.

At Walmart even if you were part time, you could get a bonus every year if your store met its “shrinkage” goals. I remember getting it once and bought a Pioneer 6 Disc Changer with it (I still have it around here somewhere…)

One year we didn’t get it because it was discovered the lady in Jewelry was stealing stuff (remember when Walmart and jewelry departments? I’m old.)

It is a business, so profit is always the reason. The question is “would those locations be profitable if the shrinkage were 0%…would they be profitable if shrinkage was the same rate as other Target locations?”

Well, I guess that isn’t really the question, it would be the question if you were one of Target’s competitors and thinking of opening up locations like the ones Target is closing.

For me the academic question is “is the shrinkage rate higher”, and if so is it because of more thefts, or is the overall average sale price in those locations lower, but the thefts are not following the curve so relitavl more costly items are stolen? I’m not exactly sure why that interests me, but it does.

The less academic (but arguably more important) question is why are they (probably) lying to us, and why are modern media outlets having a hard time figure out that we are getting lied to (or worse, why do they know but not think it is a good story?)

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Say you’re tied into a lease negotiated at the peak of growth/limited available space, and the store is now underperforming in a market where commercial retail is desperate. Say there’s some clause in the lease your lawyers feel they can exploit to get out of or renegotiate the lease…

Yeah; I’m sure it’s the organized gangs of shoplifters. (Cue The Smiths)