Shoplifting has always been a problem. My father managed a five-and-dime store when I was a small child. I remember seeing him get into fistfights with shoplifters. Once, he picked a guy up, turned him upside down, and shoved him into a trash can. What was odd about this was that he was not violent man but don’t steal his merchandise.*
Today, my Dad would have been in fist fights almost every day. Shoplifting over the last few years has gone from being a nuisance to a significant problem. As a result, major retail chains are closing stores in some of America’s biggest cities.
Walmart is closing eighteen stores (four in Chicago), Macy’s has plans to close 125 stores over the next three years, and Target is closing four stores. Best Buy is closing 20 stores, and CVS is closing 300 stores in 2023 and 2024.
What is going on?
District attorneys have been seeing shoplifting as a crime not worth prosecuting. As a result, there is little in the way of punishment for stealing.
Much of the shoplifting is conducted by organized shoplifting gangs. They invade a store and steal in quantity.
Self-checkouts are under-supervised so that people walk out with stolen goods.
And there is one other reason. Our social fabric is being torn. Politicians have always lied but not on this level nor in this quantity. When our leaders lie, they send a message that lying is okay.
There is some hope. Walgreens has made progress in limiting shoplifting. They have hired additional security and put much of their merchandise behind plexiglass. You must get a store clerk to unlock the cabinets if you see something you want (even toothpaste).
These closings are not good for America, employees, consumers or those of us who work in the toy and consumer products industries. Let’s hope things get under control soon.
*Of course, there was the time he took his shirts to a dry cleaner, and they tore all the buttons off. When my Dad complained to the owner, the owner said my Dad had cheap shirts (my Dad only wore top-level shirts). Then the dry cleaner said to my Dad: “See if you can rip the buttons off my shirt.” My Dad grabbed the man’s shirt and tore it in half. We never did business with that dry cleaner again.