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Dollar stores lock up merchandise as shoplifting spikes

An epidemic of shoplifting is spreading across the nation with retailers reporting the loss of tens of billions of dollars. Now, even discount dollar stores are feeling the “pinch.”

According to Yahoo News, no retailer is immune: “Over the past year, many of the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers in the U.S. — including WalmartHome DepotDollar Tree and Rite Aid — have said that shoplifting has put a major dent in their earnings. In May, Target said it expects to lose as much as $500 million in profit from lost inventory, driven mostly by an uptick in retail crime.”

Forbes reported this week that this year’s losses will top $1 billion for all retailers combined.

On Aug. 24, Dollar Tree Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said the discount retailer would start locking up items to prevent growing theft.

Dreiling has blamed shrink, an industry term for stolen items and damages, for causing the company to miss its earnings forecasts and cut its outlook in May.

The retailer’s gross profit margins tumbled to 29.8 percent in the second quarter of 2023 from 32.7 percent in the second quarter of 2022.

“We are now taking a very defensive approach to shrink,” Dreiling told news outlets, noting that inventory losses had “advanced a little further than what we had anticipated.”

The spree of store theft has already forced larger stores such as CVS and Target to lock up entire isles of items. They’re not alone, other retailers like Walgreens, ACE Hardware, and even grocery stores are putting product under padlock, or at least behind plexiglass.

As for Dollar Tree, the CEO also suggested that some items with the highest rates of theft would be removed from stores altogether but wouldn’t specify any in particular.

Some are also pointing a finger at online retailers who allow third-party sales.

“Companies like Amazon … make billions of dollars each year from the sale of illicit goods on their platforms. If lawmakers dared to stand up to online retailers, they could go after the real kingpins — not the people stealing deodorant just to get by.” Ethan Corey wrote for the magazine Appeal.


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