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Target says it's closing 9 stores because of surging retail thefts

Target said Tuesday it is shuttering nine stores in four states because mounting thefts and organized retail crime at those locations is jeopardizing the safety of workers and customers.

The closings, which take effect on Oct. 21, include four stores in San Francisco, three stores in Portland, Oregon, and two in Seattle. Target said that it still will have a combined 150 stores after the closures.

"[W]e 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," Target said in a statement. "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."

Target also said it had added security guards and taken other measures in a bid to prevent thefts at the affected stores, but to no avail. "Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully," the company said.

The rise in shoplifting and other incidents at Target locations comes as other retailers say a rise in crime is hurting their business. Whole Foods in April temporarily closed one of its flagship stores in San Francisco, citing concerns that crime in the area endangered employees. And retailers including Dick's Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty have also pointed to rising theft as a factor in shrinking profits.

During the pandemic, a rise in so-called smash-and-grab retail robberies impacted retailers across the U.S., with organized theft rings targeting major chains.

Target CEO Brian Cornell told Wall Street analysts in August that assaults on Target store workers increased 120% over the first five months of the year compared with the year-ago period.

"Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime," he said at the time. "Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction."

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation found that stores reported $112 billion in total inventory losses last year, with internal and external thefts accounting for roughly two-thirds of that figure, up from nearly $94 billion in 2021. The group also noted that more retailers reported a rise in violent incidents. 

"While theft has an undeniable impact on retailer margins and profitability, retailers are highly concerned about the heightened levels of violence and threat of violence associated with theft and crime," NRF said.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Khristopher J. Brooks

Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.

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