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Retailer giant Target is announcing it will shutter multiple locations in the coming weeks as thefts in its stores rise.

In a statement, Target said “theft and organized retail crime” spurred the decision to close nine stores in four cities. The stores, located in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and New York City, will close on October 21st.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests,” Target said. “We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all.”

The company thanked its team members who “have worked hard to maintain our high standards by creating a positive working and shopping experience.”

“We will be partnering closely with all eligible team members to offer them an opportunity to transfer to other Target locations.”

Companies report rise in retail theft, despite taking prevention measures

Between 2021 and 2022, the total cost of theft to retailers grew by roughly 16%. That amount is nearly double the 8.9% overall increase in retail sales over the same time period.

Across the country, companies reported a combined $112 billion in losses. According to a CNBC report, approximately 37% of these losses came from external theft, while roughly 29% came from internal, or employee theft. The remaining 27% was the result of failures in company control measures. However, despite the increase in losses, the same report suggests corporations’ overall profits remained roughly the same.

Still, Target officials self-reported a 120% increase in theft during the first five months of 2023 compared to last year. In its announcement of the closures today, the company outlined measures it tried to take to mitigate theft in those stores.

Target highlights community efforts amid closure announcement

In addition to engaging with law enforcement and local officials, Target says much of its efforts were community-centered.

This work included launching a Community Outreach Coordinator team to support guests experiencing hardship, as well as working with local community organizations to address underlying needs driving theft.

The closure announcements come just two years into the company’s efforts to increase the number of Black-owned products sold in its stores.

In 2021, Target committed to increasing its investment in Black entrepreneurs. The company announced it would invest a total of $2 billion over four years in Black businesses and business owners. Since then, the company has more than doubled the number of products from Black-owned businesses on its shelves to over 100. Now, these closures could further inhibit customer access to these products.

In spite of this, the company says it remains “committed to serving these guests with more than 150 locations open in markets where the closures are taking place.”

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...

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