: Retailers say theft cost nearly $100 billion last year. But are stores using crime stats to cover up other problems?

by | May 17, 2023 | Stock Market

When REI announced plans in April to close one of its best-performing stores, a location in downtown Portland, Ore., the sporting-goods retailer became the latest to cite shoplifting and higher crime as among the main reasons.

The company told MarketWatch that it spent more than $800,000 on extra security through last year, and over the last two years had replaced windows with security glass, installed better lighting and established 24/7 security — in the store when it was open and perimeter patrols when closed. Still, a representative said, the store had 10 burglaries in 2022, and a car slammed through a store entrance on Black Friday. Shoplifting and crime weren’t the only issues: The company also said that it had outgrown the store’s constrained layout. However, some employees also said that none of those issues were new, and wondered whether there were unspoken reasons. By one former employee’s account, workers had been asking for more store space for years, amid difficulties handling bikes and boxes in a tighter space, and said theft wasn’t exactly rare. And some employees, for this story and others, have noted that efforts to unionize at the store had gained momentum not long before the announcement of the planned closure, set for early next year. “The reasons they were stating for closing just felt really convenient, because those cited problems have been problems for years,” said Chesley Lindsey, a former employee who said she was one of the bigger advocates for unionization at the store. Megan Behrbaum, th …

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