Customers face long waiting times at big-box retailers as companies LOCK UP ITEMS to stop thieves
By Ramon Tomey // Mar 06, 2024

Amid a wave of shoplifting sprees, big-box retailers like Target and Walmart have resorted to locking up their items – at the cost of long waiting times for customers who want to purchase them.

"In a significant effort to address the increasing problem of shoplifting, [the two] major retailers have taken an unprecedented step by placing essential items such as underwear and socks under lock and key," 100 Percent Fed Up said. "This move highlights the severity of theft issues affecting retailers across the country, with losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars."

Shannon Thaler of the New York Post expounded on the issue, citing the shopping trips of several "Inside Edition" reporters in New York and neighboring New Jersey. In one Walmart in the Garden State, reporters waited for 15 minutes to obtain baby formula and 24 minutes for an electric toothbrush – amounting to a waiting time of almost 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, "Inside Edition" journalist Lisa Guerrero checked out a Target in Manhattan and was greeted by "things … locked behind product cases" and "a handful of customers waiting for assistance." She recounted: "They locked up the underwear and the socks. Everything's locked up."

Guerrero wanted to get a toothpaste but had to ask assistance thrice and wait seven minutes before a Target employee showed up. Unfortunately, the employee had the wrong key and had to get the correct one before the journalist got her toothpaste. Moreover, Guerrero had to wait for almost 11 minutes for a staffer to unlock the anti-theft barrier and get a bottle of vitamins.

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Two shoppers outside the Manhattan Target shared their woes to "Inside Edition." A man said he "ended up waiting about 13 to 14 minutes" before "giving up." A woman meanwhile called the barricades, put up to prevent inventory losses, "discouraging."

Products being locked behind barriers a symptom of a bigger problem

According to the National Retail Federation, shoplifting accounted for $49.9 billion in losses in 2019 alone. Even Target, which is based in Minneapolis, is aware of the impact of shoplifting five years on.

This year, the big-box retailer says it expects losses of as much as $1.3 billion due to "theft and organized crime." It also predicted that its profit will be squeezed by "$500 million more than what we saw last year." In 2023, Target lost as much as $800 million from "inventory shrink" – a state where a retailer has fewer products on its shelves compared to what's indicated in its inventory catalog.

"While there are many potential sources of inventory shrink, theft and organized retail crime are increasingly important drivers of the issue," Target said. The big-box retailer added that it is "making significant investments in strategies to prevent this from happening" in its various stores. True enough, locking products behind anti-theft barriers is one of them. (Related: NYC store locking cans of Spam and tuna in plastic cases to avoid THEFT.)

"While the locking up of essential items may deter shoplifters, it has also had an impact on consumers," 100 Percent Fed Up ultimately remarked. "Longer wait times for assistance at the cash register, as well as the inconvenience of having to ask store employees for assistance in unlocking items, has led to frustration among shoppers."

"This frustration has led to a decline in customer satisfaction and could potentially drive customers to seek out alternative shopping options."

Watch this clip about Walmart closing down in Portland due to rampant shoplifting.

This video is from the Recharge Freedom channel on

More related stories:

Big-box stores closing down due to rising RETAIL THEFT.

Grocery stores hiring armed security teams to ward off rising thefts.

Rampant theft prompts NYC grocery stores to consider locking up food.

Rampant shoplifting is forcing retailers like Walmart and Target to LOCK UP essential products.

Shoppers forced to wait up to 40 minutes to buy basic essentials as major retailers LOCK UP goods to combat shoplifting.

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