SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Target announced it is closing three stores in the Bay Area due to retail theft, the company announced Tuesday.
"We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance," the Minneapolis-based company wrote on its website.
"We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all."
The company says it is closing nine stores across four states effective Oct. 21.
The following Bay Area stores are slated to close next month:
1690 Folsom St. (Folsom and 13th St)
2650 Broadway (Oakland Broadway & 27th)
4301 Century Blvd
Target says 32 stores in the Bay Area will stay open with more than 6,400 employees keeping their jobs.
Stores in New York City, Portland and Seattle will also be impacted.
Target says it invested heavily in strategies to prevent and stop theft and organized retail crime in its stores, such as adding more security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across its business.
"Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully," the company wrote.
"It is a disappointment especially because I moved around the area to be close to shopping centers and things like Target and get my groceries," said Taiwo Mustafa, San Francisco resident.
"It sucks. I'm not surprised people are stealing. I mean this area is not very nice but I feel like everywhere in the city faces theft. So I'm not sure why security doesn't do anything about it," said Justin Porter, San Francisco resident.
It's unclear how much money retailers broadly are losing due to organized retail crime -- or if the problem has substantially increased. But the issue has received more notice in the past few years as high-profile smash-and-grab retail thefts and flash mob robberies have garnered national media attention. Over the past few quarters, an increasing number of retailers including Dick's Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty have been calling out rising theft, calling it a factor in shrinking profits.
The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, said its latest security survey of roughly 177 retailers found that inventory loss -- called shrink - clocked in at an average rate of 1.6 % last year, representing $112.1 billion in losses. That is up from an estimated $94 billion in 2021.
As a percentage of total sales, however, this number has stayed at less than 2% for the last seven years.
It's important to note that this is a survey, which means it's an estimate and is not a complete collection of all retail theft. The retailers surveyed are not listed, so we do not know which ones were chosen or where they're located.
The survey also estimates that just 36% of shrink in 2022 came from external theft, including organized retail crime. That means 64% came from other sources such as employee theft, loss, etc.
Additionally, while the survey reports that Los Angeles and San Francisco are top cities affected by organized retail crime in 2022, the report does not provide any numbers to quantify this.
The NRF said that even though retailers continue to improve their loss-prevention measures, sometimes more drastic action must be taken. Nearly 30% of retailers surveyed reported being forced to close a specific store location, and 45% said they needed to reduce operating hours. Roughly 30% said they needed to change or reduce product selection in stores as a direct result of retail crime.
Late last year, Congress passed a bill, called the INFORM ACT, that seeks to combat sales of counterfeit goods and dangerous products by compelling online marketplaces to verify different types of information - including bank account, tax ID and contact details - for sellers who make at least 200 unique sales and earn a minimum of $5,000 in a given year.
Target said Tuesday that it's making significant investments in cyber defense to combat retail theft and fraud and has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations division to combat retail theft.
The closures of these stores go beyond retail convenience. Lynette Gibson McElhaney is a former Oakland councilmember who says this is a devastating loss for the community. She worked for 4 years to convince Target to open the store they are now closing here.
"Target was a big fish for us. It was the first major retail in downtown in 30 years," said McElhaney and added, "We now lost the CVS in Target which is where people were being directed."
In San Francisco, Supervisor Matt Dorsey believes closures will continue unless more police officers are hired.
"It breaks my heart. It's because we've seen this a lot and it's in the mid-Market area or the Whole Foods that closed in my neighborhood or the Westfield mall," said Supervisor Dorsey, "We are supposed to have 2182 officers and instead we have 1475 officers.
Time is ticking for residents like Yolanda Gem who are seeing the city change before her eyes.
"It takes a toll in the community to be honest with you. San Francisco it's not what it used to be," said Gem.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao wrote in a statement:
"I understand the challenges that Target is facing in cities across the country and I am disappointed by the news of its closure in Oakland. My goal is to continue working in partnership with members of the business community to help ensure their safety and success in our city."
The Associate Press contributed to this report.
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