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Walmart CEO Warns That Rising Theft Could Lead To Higher Prices And Store Closures

Daniel Plainview

Updated: December 8, 2022

theft higher prices
Editor’s Note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: There’s something strange about Walmart. Compared to all large retail outlets, Walmart dwarfs all in the number of criminally-related fatalities. So, perhaps the surge in theft shouldn’t be much of a surprise. High inflation is forcing many Americans who have a proclivity for theft to raid Walmart stores across the country. The problem with this is that theft, if it expands beyond a scattershot of incidents to a growing trend, can only lead to higher prices. A theft-inflation spiral? 

KEY POINTS
  • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said theft is becoming a bigger issue at stores across the U.S.
  • If the problem continues, it could lead to store closures and price jumps, McMillon said.

Walmartstores across the U.S. are grappling with an uptick in theft that could lead to higher prices and closed stores if the problem persists, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Tuesday. 

“Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We’ve got safety measures, security measures that we’ve put in place by store location. I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it,” McMillon said.

Walmart isn’t the only big-box retailer dealing with an uptick in theft. Last month, Target Chief Financial Officer Michael Fiddelke said shoplifting has jumped about 50% year over and year, leading to more than $400 million in losses in this fiscal year alone. 

Most of the shoplifting is organized retail theft, rather than petty theft, Fiddelke said.

When asked on Tuesday about how local jurisdictions handle shoplifting cases, McMillon said a lax approach from prosecutors could impact prices and lead to store closures down the line. 

“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close,” McMillon said. 

“It’s really city by city, location by location. It’s store managers working with local law enforcement and we’ve got great relationships there for the most part,” he added.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas contributed to this report.

Originally published on CNBC.

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