The prevalence of organized retail theft is forcing Target Corporation to close nine stores in four states, including three in the Bay Area, the company announced Tuesday.
In a press release, Target said it took the decision to close stores very seriously and only made it after investing in measures to prevent and stop theft that were ultimately unsuccessful.
“In this case, we cannot continue to operate these stores as theft and organized retail crime threaten the safety of our team and guests and contribute to unsustainable business performance,” the statement said. “We know our stores play an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for everyone.”
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement: “I understand the challenges Target faces in cities across the country and am disappointed by the news of the closure in Oakland. My goal is to continue to work with members of the business community to ensure their safety and success in our city.”
The Minneapolis-based retail giant said it plans to close its Bay Area stores: the San Francisco store at Folsom and 13th Streets, the Oakland store at Broadway and 27th Street, and the Pittsburg store at Century Plaza Shopping Center.
Residents who live near Oakland said the location is convenient for them.
“It kind of sucks. I come here all the time,” said Amy Dobis, who lives nearby. “A lot of the things here are the things I would buy at Ikea. I have to go to Emeryville and it’s far away.”
Antioch resident Angelique Scott goes to the Pittsburg Target and said she noticed more items locked up. But this is the place where she goes shopping.
“This is my favorite store. “I do all my orders online when I don’t feel like coming in and they usually deliver the goods straight to my house,” she said.
Scott said she wasn’t sure where to shop now.
The company said it will also close two Target stores in Seattle, as well as three stores in Portland and one in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.
Target said it deployed additional security staff, third-party guards and theft deterrents at its stores, but the tactics were not enough to stop rampant and increasingly brazen shoplifting.
“Unfortunately, despite our efforts, we continue to face fundamental challenges in operating these businesses safely and successfully,” the statement said.
The branches in question will be closed effective October 21st. Employees at stores scheduled to close will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other Target locations, the company said.
Target added that its customers in the markets where the closures are occurring will continue to be served by more than 150 other locations in the same markets.
Earlier this year, Target said losses caused by theft at its stores could exceed $1.2 billion this fiscal year. CEO Brian Cornell told analysts last month that violent incidents against Target employees increased 120% in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year.
In May, Target removed products marketed to the LGBTQ+ community for Pride Month due to a conservative backlash and a series of confrontations with store employees. Target’s response to right-wing activism sparked a second backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and civil rights groups.
In 2021, Target reduced the hours of operation of its San Francisco stores due to a sharp increase in shoplifting at various locations in the city.
Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, Houston, New York and Seattle are the metro areas with the highest retail crime rates, according to industry analysts.
In San Francisco, several major retailers have closed downtown stores recently — including Walgreens, Old Navy, Nordstrom and Whole Foods — with the closures attributed to ongoing retail theft combined with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and changing shopping habits.
Jocelyn Moran contributed to this report.