The retail industry has been facing a myriad of challenges in a post-pandemic landscape, particularly in the realm of crime. According to a recent Retail Workplace Survey conducted by Loss Prevention Magazine, a staggering 60% of retail employees reported encountering some form of violence over the past year.
Now, Walmart (which said it closed 22 stores by mid-2023 due to safety concerns) is taking direct action to curb crime in its stores.
Walmart is reopening one of its closed stores in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood after renovating it to include a pharmacy, groceries, and a unique addition—a police station within the store, The Street reported. The approach aims to combat crime, increase security, and make shoppers feel safer, the company says.
“After talking with the Merchants Association on MLK and Clark University and other people in the neighborhood, folks were saying they want to see more police presence,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told the outlet.
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In a 2022 interview with CNBC, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon acknowledged the issue of theft, which had surpassed “historical” levels, adding that police enforcement is a key factor in addressing the problem.
“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,” McMillion said at the time. “It’s store managers working with local law enforcement and we’ve got great relationships there for the most part.”
Upon reopening, the police substation will also serve as a hub for officers to recharge their devices, hold meetings, and manage paperwork.
Other major retail chains that have faced the issue of ongoing theft and crime have voiced new measures to combat the issue.
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In August, discount retailer Dollar Tree said on an earnings call that it would be taking a “very defensive approach” to theft by increasing the number of products locked behind shelves and even discontinuing certain items at stores that are repeatedly stolen.