Walmart Closing Stores Due To Uncontrollable Amount Of Crime?

All Walmarts in Portland, Oregon will close following an unprecedented surge in theft. The closures follow ones that occurred in Arkansas, Florida, Wisconsin, Washington D.C., and New Mexico.

By Tori Hook | Updated

self-checkout shoplifters walmart recall store recall gas prices walmart shooting

Walmart shoppers in Portland, Oregon, will soon have to travel outside the city to do their shopping, or shop elsewhere after Walmart announced last week that it’s closing both of its Portland locations. Though the company was careful to say that there are lots of factors that influence why a store closes, the closures do come just months after CEO Doug McMillon stated that stores across the country would close if law enforcement didn’t “crack down” on shoplifting. With Walmart locations shutting down in Arkansas, Florida, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Illinois, as well as Portland, these closures could be just the first of many.

Portland has been suffering from an onslaught of retail thefts, with many companies and stores shutting down and, in effect, fleeing the city. Small businesses, in particular, struggle to handle the amount of shoplifting, as they usually don’t have the resources or funds of larger businesses to offset the losses.  According to Fox Business, a local clothing shop, Rains PDX, permanently shuttered in November after a total of 15 break-ins, only three of which have been covered by insurance. A scathing note on the business door read, “Our city is in peril,” and placed heavy blame on the lack of punishment for retail theft.

Unlike Rains PDX, Walmart is a billion-dollar corporation with the capital to offset losses due to theft, but even Walmart has its limits. If a store isn’t performing well financially—for whatever reason—then Walmart will have to make decisions about whether or not it’s worth keeping in business. In the case of the Portland stores, Walmart has 17 other locations outside of the city and in nearby Vancouver, so they likely won’t see significant area losses, despite the closing of the downtown Portland stores.

Walmart’s recent closures have had the biggest effect not on its customers but on its employees, many of whom have been with the company for years. The 580 employees at the Portland stores will have the option to transfer to nearby Walmart locations but, for many, the added drive or lack of public transportation may force them to cut their Walmart careers short. Walmart is also offering to transfer pharmacy customers’ prescriptions to nearby locations, though, undoubtedly, some will choose to take their business elsewhere.

It’s not just Portland that’s dealing with record amounts of shoplifting; retail theft is at an all-time high across the country, causing stores to close and even contributing to the recent price hikes. While some states have responded by raising penalties associated with shoplifting, many critics argue that harsher punishments won’t have the desired effect of lowering retail crime rates. Some say that the rise in retail theft has less to do with a lack of law enforcement and legal recourse and more to do with the inflation that’s been suffocating the country for nearly a year now.

According to recent surveys, as well, only a third of all retail theft was attributed to break-ins or similar incidents; almost two-thirds of the overall amount of retail theft was by employees. This points to a larger issue—the fact that most Americans are struggling to afford necessities like groceries and rent on the salaries their companies are paying them. So until inflation cools off, we may see more and more theft and more and more stores closing—even Walmart locations.