Theft forces retailers to push back in ways you may not like


Price hikes are a natural response, so be ready

We’re not quite to the point where retailers are putting bubblegum behind lock and key – but we’re getting close!

Following Walgreens, Dollar Tree, and Whole Foods’ efforts to protect themselves, Giant Foods is locking up its Health and Beauty Care (HBC) items at a Washington D.C. location and putting private label items in their place in an effort to prevent theft, the company said.

Giant reportedly plans to remove Tide laundry detergent, Schick razor blades, Dove soap, Degree deodorant, and Pantene shampoo from its Alabama Avenue store. In addition, it will also begin receipt-checking. 

“The retail theft that we are experiencing across our market area is a problem that affects all of us, limiting product availability, creating a less convenient shopping experience, and, most critically, placing our associates and customers in harm’s way,” the company said in a statement.

“We need to be able to run our stores safely and profitably, and we take these responsibilities seriously.”

It’s not just things like Dove soap in Washington D.C., either. Retail crime is at epidemic proportions and killing bottom lines everywhere.

In recent quarterly results announcements, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, Foot Locker, and Target said the hurt that theft is costing them is near unbearable. Dick’s lost more than $27 million in the second quarter and Target about $219 million, according to CNBC.

Are we headed for one big hide-and-seek game?

Where is this all going? Who knows? Retailers are dealing with theft in their own unique ways and you shouldn’t be surprised by anything. 

Jill Blanchard, president, of Enterprise Client Solutions at Advantage Solutions, told ConsumerAffairs that shoppers can now expect to face anti-theft measures that may make it more difficult for them to get the products they need. These measures include more video surveillance, placing merchandise behind the counter, and more locking up merchandise.

And what is that merchandise? Here’s Blanchard’s laundry list: 

  • Feminine care

  • Facial skincare

  • Eye care

  • Ear care

  • First aid

  • Pain relief

  • Sleeping and alertness aids

  • Upper respiratory

  • Foot care

  • GI care

  • Cosmetics and nail grooming

  • Sexual health

  • Batteries

  • Electronics

She added that the newest self-protection hassle is that some retailers are installing QR codes on “lockers” for certain products that require a consumer to scan a code to unlock the product.

This will cost us

At some point, push will come to shove and both retailers and consumers will likely change both prices and shopping options.

Three out of every four consumers say they’ve already seen the writing on the wall and fear that retailers will raise prices to offset their losses from theft – a move that Walmart’s CEO has pretty much confirmed.

What will consumers do in response? “Some consumers may perceive this to be too burdensome and instead forgo that purchase in-store and buy instead online,” Blanchard said.

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