'Tighten the strings': Shoplifting crisis has Target, Walmart debating whether to raise prices

Josh Chapin Image
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Shoplifting crisis has retailers debating whether to raise prices
"Everybody has to tighten the strings"

DURHAM. N.C. (WTVD) -- You name the price of anything and it's hitting Jemanda Clay hard.

"Between milk, bottles, diapers, gas, rent? For me being a single mother, I'm just trying to make ends meet the best way I can," said Clay, who has a 3-year-old daughter.

She just moved to Durham from New York and isn't finding the Triangle that much cheaper especially with inflation soaring and a place like Target threatening to raise prices because of a shoplifting crisis.

One store at Crabtree Valley Mall has fallen victim to a repeat shoplifter. One woman came in last week at BohoBlu and stole a dress. Then the same woman came in this week and did it again.

"More theft means higher prices, that is the bottom line," said Gerald Cohen, professor at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Cohen worked in the Treasury Department during the Obama Administration.

"I wonder if this is occurring despite the fact that we have a very strong market? Is it occurring because of the inflation aspect? Because wages aren't keeping up with inflation? Am I forced to do so?" Cohen said.

Target, which said most of the crime is organized versus petty theft, said shoplifting has jumped 50% year over year which has led to more than $400 million in losses this fiscal year alone.

Walmart said the uptick in shoplifting could lead to higher prices and closed stores if the problem persists.

"Everybody has to tighten the strings," said Lyentte Zentgraft, who was visiting Durham Friday night for her son's soccer tournament.

She said this year she's getting a smaller Christmas tree and not as many gifts for her boys. Part of their present is coming down for the tournament.