Target, one of the largest retailers in the United States, announced on Tuesday that it will close nine stores in four states by Oct. 21, citing increased theft and violence that threaten the safety of its employees and customers. The affected stores are located in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; New York City; and San Francisco-Oakland, California.
Target blames organized retail crime for store closures
Target said that the decision to close the nine stores was driven by the high level of retail crime at those locations, which has resulted in physical harm and financial losses. The company said that it has invested millions of dollars in security measures and personnel, but the situation has not improved.
“Organized retail crime is a serious and growing challenge facing retailers across the country, especially in these four markets,” Target said in a statement. “These crimes pose a significant threat to our team members and guests, as well as the communities we serve.”
Target added that it will continue to work with law enforcement and industry partners to address the issue of organized retail crime, which involves coordinated groups of thieves who steal large quantities of merchandise and resell them online or at flea markets.
Target employees and customers express shock and disappointment
The announcement of the store closures came as a shock and disappointment to many Target employees and customers, who said that they rely on the stores for their shopping needs and livelihoods. Some of them expressed their frustration and sadness on social media, saying that they will miss their local Target stores.
“I’m heartbroken. This is my neighborhood Target. I shop here almost every day. It’s convenient, clean, and friendly. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it,” one customer wrote on Twitter.
“I’ve been working at this Target for three years. It’s more than just a job. It’s a family. We’ve been through so much together, especially during the pandemic. I don’t want to lose my coworkers or my customers. This is unfair,” one employee wrote on Facebook.
Target to offer affected workers the opportunity to transfer
Target said that it will offer the affected workers the opportunity to transfer to other nearby stores or receive severance pay. The company said that it still has a strong presence in the markets where the closures are taking place, with a combined 150 stores open.
“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our team members at these locations and we thank them for their service,” Target said. “We also thank our loyal guests for their support and look forward to continuing to serve them at our other stores and online.”
Target faces backlash from local officials and community leaders
The decision to close the nine stores also sparked backlash from some local officials and community leaders, who accused Target of abandoning their communities and failing to address the root causes of crime and violence. They said that Target should have done more to engage with the local stakeholders and find solutions to keep the stores open.
“This is a slap in the face to our community. Target is one of the few major retailers that serve our low-income and minority residents. They provide jobs, affordable goods, and tax revenue. By closing this store, they are leaving a huge gap that will hurt our economy and quality of life,” one city council member said.
“This is a cowardly move by Target. They are blaming organized retail crime for their own failures. They have not invested enough in security, prevention, or intervention. They have not partnered with us to address the underlying issues of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and addiction that fuel crime and violence. They have not listened to our concerns or suggestions. They have simply given up on us,” one community activist said.