Walmart CEO: Stores could close with uptick in shoplifting

(NewsNation) — Walmart is considering possible store closures and price hikes as it grapples with what the company says is an uptick in shoplifting.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that theft is higher than what it has historically been.

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

NewsNation has reached out to Walmart to see how much money the company has lost because of shoplifting this year. McMillon did not offer an exact number in the CNBC interview.

Target, another big-box retailer, is also seeing theft rise. Last month, CNBC reported the company’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Fiddelke said shoplifting jumped about 50% year over year, translating to more than $400 million in losses during this fiscal year alone.

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation found that in 2021, organized crime went up by 26.5% percent. As a whole, retailers lost almost $100 billion in 2021 to organized crime.

“(Shoplifters) will stop at nothing to get out of that store with the product,” Lisa LaBruno, of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said. “They’re identifying the product that they feel is in high demand, and … it’s almost like they have a Christmas list.”

In Los Angeles this week, police arrested 18 people who they say went on a shoplifting spree at stores around Los Angeles County. They allegedly swiped around 23,000 worth of clothing from several stores, NewsNation local affiliate KTLA reported.

Hitha Herzog, a retail analyst and financial expert, said consumers could be affected by stealing as more security measures are implemented in stores.

At one Philadelphia gas station, they hired armed Pennsylvania S.I.T.E. Security State agents for protection after several robberies.

Pennsylvania S.I.T.E. Security State Agent Chief Andre Boyer said they are armed with AR-15s.

“If there’s a deterrent at the front door,” he told NewsNation, “these guys won’t have an opportunity to take lives.”

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