Walmart Shoplifting at Historic High, Says CEO

Also, the retailer still sees its customers “stressed” by inflation.

December 08, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Walmart is experiencing historically high theft, according to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, and the increase in shoplifting could lead to higher prices and store closures if the trend continues, reports CNBC.

Target is also seeing increased shoplifting, with Target’s CFO Michael Fiddelke telling CNBC last month that theft is up 50% year over year, accounting for over $400 million in losses in this fiscal year alone. The shoplifting is mostly organized retail theft versus petty theft, said the finance chief.

McMillon told CNBC that a lax approach from prosecutors in local jurisdictions on shoplifting cases 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.

(For best practices on how c-stores can mitigate theft and crime in their stores, read the NACS Magazine article “Security Check.”)

Separately, McMillion also told CNBC that American consumers are still “stressed” by inflation, but the impacts are hitting different categories unevenly.

“We’ve got some customers who are more budget conscious that have been under inflation pressure now for months,” he told CNBC. “That sustained pressure in some categories, I think, is something customers are having to deal with as we approach Christmas.”

Shoppers are being more selective, choosing staples over discretionary purchases, such as electronics. Walmart is seeing company growth from people choosing the retailer to save money, including wealthier consumers. About 75% of its market share gains in grocery came from shoppers with an annual household income of more than $100,000 in the past two quarters, reports CNBC.

According to Walmart’s CFO John David Rainey, Walmart shoppers are buying cheaper proteins, like beans and hot dogs, and are waiting for sales on bigger ticket items before they purchase. They’re also buying less clothing and home goods.