Target blames "organized retail crime" for closure of nine stores in major cities

Citing a jump in organized shoplifting, Target announced that it is closing nine stores in major cities across four states.

"We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance," the retailer said in a statement. "We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all."

According to CNN, Target will close nine stores on October 21. These include one store in East Harlem, two in Seattle, three in Portland, and three in San Francisco and Oakland.

The national retail foundation said that "average shrink," which includes internal and external theft, and other inventory loss, jumped from $93.9 billion in 2021 to $112.1 billion in 2022. The Oakland police department released crime states showing that commercial burglaries increased 76% between 2021 and 2022, and have increased 56% compared to the five-year average.

From CNN:

[Burt Flickinger, retail expert and managing director of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group] said the retailers are grappling with a dynamic with organized retail crime, or ORC, where it's potentially not more people stealing but the same gangs of individuals who are stealing repeatedly from the same stores.

Experts say ORC is the more insidious type of store theft which has retailers rattled. These groups steal large quantities of merchandise and then resell it in secondary marketplaces, such as eBay, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace or even back into the legitimate supply chain.

CNN also reported that "skeptics say stores have not provided enough information to back up their claims, and at least one retailer said theft was an exaggerated issue."