Walmart Struggling To Handle Explosion In Theft

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James Lynch Reporter
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Walmart stores are facing a surge in shoplifting that could lead to higher prices and closures if the problem persists, CEO Doug McMillon said in an interview Dec. 6.

“Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it’s historically been,” McMillon told CNBC’sSquawk Box.”

“We’ve got safety measures, security measures that we’ve put in place by store location. I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it,” he added.

McMillon addressed the soft approach to theft taken by local prosecutors, saying, “if that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close.” He called for policy makers to exercise “consistency and clarity” so the company can make capital investments with “some vision.”

The CEO said he believes customers are “stressed” and have been “under inflation pressure now for months,” beginning in March and April of 2022, he told CNBC. Walmart’s growth primarily comes from consumers looking to save money as the company tries its best to keep prices low, McMillon added.

Walmart is not the only retail giant grappling with a spike in retail theft. Earlier in 2022, Target CFO Michael Fiddelke blamed “organized retail crime” for a $400 million loss in gross profits. He cited theft as a “key driver” in retail profit losses and said the problem has gotten “increasingly worse over the last 12 to 18 months.” (RELATED: Businesses Add Fewest Jobs In Two Years As Manufacturing Craters)

A September report from the National Retail Federation measured a $3.7 billion increase in losses from 2020 to 2021 due to goods stolen from stores. Participating retailers attributed the greatest portion of inventory shrinkage to external theft, including “organized retail theft” in fiscal year 2021.

“If you watch his Tuesday interview with CNBC, Doug was speaking about retail in general and not specifically about Walmart,” a company spokesperson told the Daily Caller.

Update: This article has been updated to include Walmart’s official statement.