As looting continues and lockdowns return, many retail companies have announced recently that they are shuttering some locations that have become simply too expensive to maintain.
Major cities have been hit by a wave of “smash-and-grab” robberies, where organized groups of looters attack store employees and escape with thousands of dollars in merchandise. Organized retail theft now costs retailers across the country a grand total of about $65 billion per year.
Meanwhile, some areas announced this month that they are again implementing stricter COVID restrictions, including mask and vaccine mandates, over concerns about rising virus cases and the new Omicron variant. Early data has pointed to the Omicron variant being less lethal but more contagious than the Delta variant.
Some of the country’s major pharmacy chains have said that they plan to close a number of stores.
In November, CVS announced that it will close around 900 retail locations over the next three years, which amounts to about 9% of its 10,000 stores. CVS locations across the country have been affected by looting over the past year and a half, but the company cited more customers shopping online in its decision to close stores.
Rite Aid said just this week that it is closing 63 stores in order to reduce costs and boost profitability.
In October, Walgreens announced that they would close five locations in San Francisco, citing rampant shoplifting across the city. The company said that it increased security measures at Walgreens locations “across the city to 46 times our chain average” in an effort to combat San Francisco’s “organized retail theft” epidemic.
Walgreens is far from the only retailer to be suffering from increased crime sprees in San Francisco. The city has seen a particularly high number of robberies involving merchandise worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Grocery stores are also feeling the effects of spiking crime, as well as lingering damage from government lockdowns.
Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery store chain, made headlines earlier this year when it closed several stores in Seattle and Long Beach, California, after the local governments demanded the company pay its workers hazard pay for working through the pandemic.
Iconic department stores are not immune either.
Macy’s is on track to close the remaining 60 out of 125 stores the company has been working on sunsetting over the last year or so. The company said last month that it plans to close 10 of those stores in January. Macy’s has shifted to focusing more on its e-commerce business in recent years.
Macy’s and many other retail companies also took a hit in 2020 when government lockdowns hobbled their business and looters damaged locations in major cities during rioting in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
JCPenney and Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy last year after weeks of lockdowns became the final straw for the struggling companies.
Asked about the more recent surge in retail robberies last month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to blame former President Donald Trump, saying President Biden has proposed more funding for local police than Trump did. She also blamed COVID-19, saying the pandemic is “a root cause” of the rise in looting incidents.