Walmart - possible shutdowns

I live in the UK but have heard of Walmart (who hasn’t?).

This has started appearing in the UK press:

With shoplifting getting worse and worse, Walmart may shut down stories in locations where law enforcement is not strong enough.

CEO Doug McMillon of the retail giant claimed that the company is experiencing a surge in “shrink-related losses” which refers to in-store theft or fraud

Is the claim of theft just an excuse to shut down unprofitable stores - it sounds strange that shoplifting is such a problem


It’s called “shrinkage” in the U.S. for businesses. It can really eat at the bottom line. I go to a nearby Walmart. It’s huge. I’ve seen old pairs of shoes, disgarded wrappers of food, opened boxes with contents missing….it’s pretty disgraceful the theft that goes on. When I see people with no carts walking or a family with a baby carriage(perfect for hiding things), and they are looking around and lingering in an aisle, I suspect they’re thieves.
I believe the employees are pretty powerless over this in stopping thieves in action, fear of violence I suppose or lawsuits, but they do have great cameras and videotaping systems in place and call the police….which helps if they show up in time.
Heck, one time this past summer, I was just parking my car, and I saw this guy running in the parking lot and I thought to myself, maybe he’s late for the bus, but then I saw he was carrying a box on his shoulder which appeared to be a string trimmer or a leaf blower.

Think about all that money walking out of the store. If the store wants to continue paying wages, benefits, utilities, etc for running the place, it has to curb thefts.

That’s why some drug store chains have closed some locations, thefts….too dangerous and expensive for them to continue doing business there. Employees get hurt and injured and that can trigger lawsuits….everything costs money……liability costs money too.

Stop the thieves, and stop the bleeding at the stores or close it down.

Costco fellow who checks receipts at the door, says it’s a big problem….even the ones with money(depends on your perspective) steal and hide things.

I had thieves at my business, most were employees….that’s also a big shrinkage problem.

Lucky Dog


This reminds me of the time the wife and I witnessed this dude lift up his walker and haul buttucts to catch a bus. Talk about fraud (not theft related but a form of theft). And these guys are on every street corner mooching for money. Dangerous stuff walking between cars waiting on the light to change.


Thanks Luck Dog

Following your post I’ve Googled the problem. I didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation in the US - we don’t have anything like the problem here.

It is a crazy situation to be in:

We probably shouldn’t call it shoplifting anymore, since that term connotes the idea of a person trying to conceal their crime. In San Francisco, there is no attempt to conceal theft, and there is almost never any effort by store employees, including security personnel, to confront the thieves. The most they do is record the thefts with their cell phones.

Why is shoplifting so rampant? Because state law holds that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanor, which means that law enforcement probably won’t bother to investigate, and if they do, prosecutors will let it go.

Entire gangs walking in and helping themselves…unbelievable!

While we do have shoplifting gangs most of the shoplifting in the UK is small scale and does cause problems, but not to the extent of shops closing:

BLOCKS of cheese are protected from cash-strapped customers as supermarkets ramp up security.

I had a business and staff were my biggest problem, not from stealing but from the government forcing businesses to give more and more benefits. I eventually got rid of the offices and worked from home with my wife as my only employee - it was a great success :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s getting like that in most cities in the UK


None of the big box stores really prosecute people.

The reason is the cost of hiring their own lawyers.

If someone steals something for $50 and gets caught what happens? An attorney defending them can counter sue. One claim, “my client was about to pay for it. He should not be up on charges”.

Does not matter if the client loses or goes to jail…how many billable hours does that cost the box store? The item taken was much less at $50.

There are the newer professional gangs of the last 20 years. Those are big hoists.

Then there are the local often mostly male white kids in high school or college who literally take anything they want if they are dishonest. That has been going on for decades. That is getting worse.

Society takes shots at minorities for this problem but most of it is the local kids.


At some stores having customers self checkout is a big part of the problem. People either do not scan something or they have a label for a low cost item that they put on a high cost item.

Who could have ever predicted that having customers check themselves out could cause problems like these? :wink:


I’m sure they “did the math” before they introduced self-check-out. The amount of imputed theft was acceptable vs the amount they’d save on payroll.


The box stores are making money off the thefts. How? By charging the rest of us to insure themselves in-house or on the price tags. This is not a loss for any of the smarter box stores.

Walmart closing stores because retail sales are down. How would it play to say retail sales are down v taking a shot at stopping some thievery by high school students? Walmart runs articles on how the self check outs are manned by cameras and a police officer will come to your door if you think it is easy to walk off without paying.

Back in college I worked in a hardware store. First rule of retail smile and help the customers but know anyone can steal and that needs to be minimized. That meant an overkill attitude that everyone was a thief. Walmart is just carrying on with the retail tradition everyone is a thief. Better to have that attitude than ignore it.

That’s probably true. They ran a test case or two, compared the shrink vs the savings on cashiers, and decided they could handle it.

As with a lot of research it’s deeper than that. They probably didn’t account for “learned behavior”, that is after people realize that nobody’s checking, the shrink rate goes up. Then a whole bunch of people who didn’t steal at all but realized they could grift just a little. Then some more. Then a lot.

I saw a lot of really bad research - or badly interpreted research - in my time. The most famous (no, I was not involved) was the decision to change the Coke formula. While blind taste tests overcame the Pepsi Challenge, what they didn’t bother saying is “We’re going to take away the original flavor you’ve been buying for 50 years, and stick you with this new flavor.” I’m sure the answers would have been quite different had they bothered to ask it that way.

One research guy i respected said you have to be careful with research. His exact quote was “If you ask questions you will get answers.” It took me a while to realize what he meant was “be careful how you ask the question, because the answer you get may have nothing to do with what you are really trying to find out.”


Guess who pays for the crime of shoplifting?

The poor. As Walmart closes, the poor have to buy at more expensive establishments, if they exist.

Defunding the police hurts the people the defunders claim to champion.

The Captain


Do you know which locations were closed? Or are you assuming the locations were in minority neighborhoods?

When I was in retail back in the day our main problems were with the local high school students. It was a white neighborhood.


Why would any company need an excuse to shut down unprofitable stores? If a store is unprofitable, it SHOULD be shut down regardless of why it is unprofitable! Either find a way to make it profitable or shut it down. Businesses exist to provide a profit.


Public image, it matters a lot to some businesses


You are not surprised that inflation increases shop lifting. If short of cash steal.

Plus lack of prosecution encourages crime. No consequences.

And physically stopping a thief can result in injuries to employees or lawsuits.

I see Walmart installing gates making it more difficult to run out with a full basket.

Most Walmarts reserve a parking space for a police car. Usually empty.


Defunding the police means they don’t have MILITARY equipment. They do not need tanks to catch theives. Also, the strawman here is how does this apply to shrinkage inside a walmart? The last few walmarts I have been in do not have a police precinct in house…sooo…???


Kind of a funny true story along the lines of shop lifting…

I went food shopping last week and purchased about 20 items. I went through the 20 items or less express lane. Trying my best to be considerate of those in back of me in line, when it was my turn to unload the cart onto the belt, I did it as fast as I could. I’m not a tall person, so seeing to the bottom of the cart that is under the seat thing is difficult for me.

When I emptied my cart, I pushed it up to the pay station and paid using my Apple Watch. The transaction occurred pretty quickly and I was “cashed out” when the elderly lady behind me said “You forgot to put your bananas on the belt.”

Oh crap - I gave the cashier my bananas (which I never saw nor thought of when unloading) and he rang them up - $1.10. Had to use my watch again for the next transaction as that would be the fastest way to get out of there.

I turned around and thanked the elderly woman for being “helpful” and made sure to tell her that I was not trying to steal the $1.10 worth of bananas.

Cheers and is it too early to say Happy Holidays?
==> slowly getting into the holiday spirit :evergreen_tree:


Unfortunately that’s what is happening here in Houston. Folks are committing serious crimes and they are typically out on bond from a previous violent crime instead of being in jail where they belong.

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Yea but if you are overweight and can’t run a nice bazooka really helps plus it provides work for road crews.


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Speaking of road crews I got stuck behind a caravan of these guys and you could tell they were city workers. When you drive 10 miles per hour you are certainly going to a job site and not going home for the day.