Jan 7, 2023 - Economy

Walgreens executive: "Maybe we cried too much" about shoplifting, thefts

A man walks out of a looted Walgreens in Times Square

A man walks out of a looted Walgreens in Times Square. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

A Walgreens executive said Thursday the company may have been too concerned about the surge in thefts and rise in shoplifting attempts last year, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Shoplifting has become a major crisis nationwide, leading to stores closing their doors and locking up mundane items, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson writes.

  • Organized crime gangs are looting stores and have become more aggressive and violent in their attempts.

Driving the news: “Maybe we cried too much last year," Walgreens finance chief James Kehoe said Thursday in an earnings call about his company's concerns over shoplifting, according to CNN.

  • Walgreens' shrink rate dropped from 3.5% in 2021 to 2.5% in the most recent quarter, CNN reports.
  • “We’re stabilized,” he said, according to CNBC, adding that Walgreen is “quite happy with where we are.” 

The big picture: Shrinkage is a term used to describe inventory loss due to theft, fraud, damage and other factors.

Retailers are banding together to push for more verification of online sellers to curb the resale of stolen goods.

  • Walgreens hired private security guards and locked up simple items so people can't access them without an associate, CNBC reports.
  • “Probably we put in too much, and we might step back a little bit from that,” Kehoe said, per CNN.

Yes, but: There are other retailers — such as Walmart and Target — that recently said theft has been a major problem. For example, Target said in November it lost $400 million from shrinkage and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said he may have to close stores or increase prices if his company can't get shrinkage under control.

More from Axios:

Shoplifting reaches crisis proportions

Companies deploy tech to prevent retail crime

As inflation keeps rising, more small-time thefts count as felonies

Retailers push for new rules stopping online sale of stolen goods

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