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Major Grocery Chain Struggles To Survive Amid Wave Of Thefts

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 10:25 PM

A grocery chain which operates primary on the East Coast says it's taking measures to stay in business amid rampant retail theft and crime across the US.

Giant Food, which operates over 160 locations across DC, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, has begun restricting entry and exit points, beefing up store security (some armed), displaying fewer high-dollar items on shelves, and reducing the number of self-checkout items, company CEO Ira Kress told the Washington Post.

Ira Kress, president of Giant Food, says his company has taken some actions in an attempt to deter shoplifting. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

According to Kress, retail theft has increased "tenfold in the last five years," which is not "an understatement," while violence has "increased exponentially."

"The last thing I want to do is close stores," Kress continued. "But I’ve got to be able to run them safely and profitably."

According to Kress, the nature of shoplifting has changed such that more and more retailers are simply allowing it - like Lulu Lemon, which recently fired two employees for calling the police on repeat looters.

"We used to chase shoplifters," said Kress. "And you’d get the product back, and nobody would ever fight you."

"I didn’t worry about somebody pulling a knife or gun on me [40] years ago," he said.

The trend, which industry experts say is in its beginning stages, could foreshadow a further emptying of downtowns already wounded by the pandemic. Although retail vacancy rates for dense urban centers have been declining over the past decade, figures from real estate data firm CoStar show the numbers inching up in some cities. -WaPo

"For the big box and the grocery [stores], which are trying to optimize a single-digit margin, it is very difficult to operate, and you will see more and more exits happening," said Lakshman Lakshmanan, senior director in Alvarez & Marsal’s consumer and retail group. "We’re seeing the highest level of organized retail crime and theft ever."

According to Kres, thieves have moved from swiping cigarettes to other goods.

"It's continued to escalate," he said. "So now it’s Tide and Dove and razor blades and Olay, or roasts or shrimp or crab legs."

According to the retail federation, incidents of organized retail crime increased in 2021 by an average of 26.5% - with store owners blaming organized retail crime for around half of the $94.5 billion lost that year due to retail shrink (stolen merchandise).

Other retailers taking similar measures

According to the report, REI - which will close its Portland, OR location next year after nearly two decades, spent over $800,000 in 2022 on additional security at that location alone. This included new windows with security glass, around-the-clock patrols, better outdoor lighting and a new security camera system, per the Post.

While Foods has gone so far as to place fliers on shelves instructing customers to find an employee to retrieve alcohol and expensive supplements and other high-value merchandise from the back.

A shopping cart in a supermarket as inflation affected consumer prices in Manhattan, New York, on June 10, 2022. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

"I was kind of surprised at the amount of effort that went into trying to mitigate the situation," said Chris Torossian, former manager in the bakery department at the company's San Francisco location.

Theft occurred “pretty much daily,” Torossian added, and he frequently heard from co-workers who felt unsafe. Team members were instructed not to chase or accuse shoplifters. In one instance, someone threw a cup of hot coffee on an employee’s face after they confronted the individual for stealing the drink, Torossian said. He also heard of instances where thieves brandished knives.

In April, the company said it was closing the location “for the time being” to “ensure the safety of our Team Members.” -WaPo

"We have the police come to our stores … they’ll take the information, they’ll record it," said Torossian. "But there’s really nothing being done with that, because they had two homicides that were a bank robbery and two shootings. So it’s like, where are they going to focus their time and attention?"

In May, Target CEO Brian Cornell told investors and analysts; "Beyond macroeconomic challenges, we continue to contend with significant headwinds caused by inventory shrink, building on a worsening trend that emerged last year. While shrink can be driven by multiple factors, theft and organized retail crime are increasingly urgent issues, impacting the team, and our guests and other retailers."

"The problem affects all of us, limiting product availability, creating a less convenient shopping experience, and put[s] our team and guests in harm’s way. The unfortunate fact is, violent incidents are increasing at our stores and across the entire retail industry. And when products are stolen, simply put, they’re no longer available for guests who depend on them. And left unchecked, theft, and organized retail crime to grade the communities we call home," he continued.

Maybe stop voting for those soft-on-crime Soros DAs?


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