A Washington, DC supermarket is reportedly removing all national brands from the shelves of its beauty and health departments in a last-ditch effort to stem rampant shoplifting and keep the store open.
Grocery store Giant Food on Alabama Avenue has struggled to remain profitable amid shoplifting that has afflicted major chain stores across the country.
In response, the store is only keeping generic private labels on its shelves – meaning people looking for often-stolen brands like Tide, Colgate or Advil will be out of luck. according to the Washington Post.
“We have no choice,” Diane Hicks, senior vice president of operations, said last week, adding that nearby stores have already blocked or removed similar products from their aisles. “I’ve left it to our customers, and unfortunately, it only forces the whole crime to come to us.”
The store also checks customers’ receipts before they leave the store.
The grocery chain — which owns 165 supermarkets across DC, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware — has already implemented several new safety measures, including more guards, fewer open entrances and more locked products, according to the Washington Post.
But according to Giant President Ira Kress, things haven’t gotten any better.
“It’s actually worse in this particular store,” Kress said of the shoplifting. “And we have invested a lot of money here, even more security here than in any other business.”
The branded products are easy to steal and have a high resale value, Kress added. Instead, customers can buy the company’s brand, CareOne, which doesn’t command the same high resale prices, the Washington Post said.
The move is a last-ditch effort to prevent the closure of the unprofitable store, which serves a borough of more than 85,000 people, the newspaper said.
And it comes at a time when retailers across the United States are grappling with a spate of shoplifting and organized crime that is eroding the profits of giants like Home Depot, Target, Walmart and Lowes.
“Our team continues to face an unacceptable level of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Brian Cornell, Target’s chief executive officer, told investors last month.
“In the first five months of this year, there was a 120 percent increase in thefts with violence or threats of violence in our stores.”
The statements reflect a nationwide trend as organized retail crime increased by more than 25 percent in 2021, according to a National Retail Federation study released last year.
That accounts for about half of the $94.5 billion lost this year to “shrinkage,” or lost product from anything other than sales.
Many stores — like Dollar Tree and Walgreens — have tried to combat theft by locking up products and discontinuing others, according to the Washington Post.
The paper added that large grocers can be sensitive to even small changes in costs because of their narrow profit margins.
As a result, some have already closed stores in cities — such as a Whole Foods store that downtown San Francisco vacated over concerns about rising crime.
“We are only closing our Trinity location for now”, a A spokesman for Whole Foods told the San Francisco Standard already in April. “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in store, we will consider reopening our Trinity location.”