TARGET has made the shocking announcement that it will be closing nine stores in major cities due to unprecedented crime and theft.
Closings in New York City, Seattle and Portland come after CEO Brian Cornell warned that historically high crime rates could force executives to make difficult decisions.
“We cannot continue to operate these stores because theft and organized retail crime threaten the safety of our team and guests and contribute to unsustainable business performance,” Target said in a press release.
“We know our stores play an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for everyone.”
One location in New York’s Harlem will close, as well as three in San Francisco, two in Seattle and three more in Portland, Oregon.
The announcement came as Cornell was outspoken about organized retail crime targeting the brand’s stores.
He warned investors that retail shrinkage, the loss of a company’s inventory, had become a $500 million problem annually.
Last month, the CEO expressed fears for the safety of his employees after revealing that Target stores had seen a massive 120 percent increase in theft incidents involving force or threat of force in the first five months of the year.
Cornell remained adamant about the severity of the problem and its determination to address the issue, but was still hesitant to close locations.
“We know how important our businesses are,” he said at the time CNBC.
“They create local jobs, they generate taxes, they are very important to local shoppers and they play a critical role in communities across the country.”
“We will continue to do everything we can to keep our doors open.”
He added: “At the same time, we will closely monitor the safety of our team and guests, as well as the financial impact on our business, as we determine the right path forward for Target.”
Cornell is one of several retail executives to speak out about the impact of theft, as Lauren Hobart, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, called the problem alarming.
In an earnings release in August, Hobart reported a decline in profits due to increased shrinkage and said crime was an increasingly serious problem affecting many retailers.
Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom said a third of the company’s overall losses were due to crime, with $100,000 worth of merchandise stolen from one Los Angeles location.
According to a National Retail Federation survey, retail theft will be a $112 billion problem affecting major retailers in 2022.
A growing list of brands is closing stores to combat the problem, including Walgreens, Walmart, Nike and Dollar Tree.
Retailers also take inconvenient anti-theft measures such as including lower-priced merchandise, which saves on products but detracts from the shopping experience.
As thefts increase, retailers’ profits will continue to decline.