Walmart Price Hikes: CEO Says Rampant Theft Could Lead To Higher Costs and Store Closures

Las Vegas - Circa June 2019: Walmart Retail Location.
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The costs of shoplifting are adding up at Walmart. CEO Doug McMillon said that an uptick in theft is becoming such an issue at locations across the U.S. that it could lead to store closures and price hikes.

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“Theft is an issue,” McMillon said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Dec. 6. “It’s higher than what it has historically been.”

McMillon went on to say that Walmart has security measures in place, including staffing local law enforcement, but suggested that may not be enough to stop shoplifting which, depending on local jurisdiction, may not be penalized heavily enough.

“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close,” McMillon said.

Walmart surely isn’t alone in its struggles with consumer theft. Target, for one, is also seeing a rise in shoplifting — up 50% year over year in Q3 2022. Those losses have cost Target more than $400 million.

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The holidays are prime time for shoplifters, and many stores are doubling down on security measures to help protect their inventory during the holiday rush. Shoppers may notice more mounted cameras and items behind plexiglass and tied off with steel cables.

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This year’s Retail Security Survey by the National Retail Federation found that retail shrink, which includes shoplifting, is an almost $100 billion problem for retailers.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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