As Target prepares to close theft-ridden stores, crime data and foot-traffic are in the spotlight

October 12, 2023

Target Corp.’s recent announcement that it will close nine stores across four states marked the latest chapter in the retail industry’s ongoing struggle against theft and organized retail crime.

Last month Target TGT, 0.06% announced the closure of nine stores in New York; Seattle; the San Francisco and Oakland area; and Portland, Ore., citing the impact of theft and the importance of employee and guest safety. The store closures will be effective Oct. 21.

The news garnered plenty of attention, although Target has not revealed data about specific incidents at the stores. Nonetheless, researchers have sought to fill in these gaps.

Citing publicly available crime data, Popular Information reports that stores being closed in New York, San Francisco and Seattle actually have lower levels of theft than nearby stores that have remained open. Data suggest that factors other than crime are driving Target’s decision to close stores in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, according to Popular Information. While the issue of “shrink,” has been cited by multiple retailers in recent months, the website added that companies may be overemphasizing crime to deflect from internal issues such as staffing levels.

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