Walmart is closing its last two stores in crime-ridden Portland, Oregon, as the city struggles with a relentless wave of shoplifting that has hammered retailers.
The closures, scheduled for March 24, come months after CEO Doug McMillon warned that the discounter saw a spike in “shrinkage” — a term the retailer uses to address losses related to in-store theft or fraud.
“Theft is a problem. It’s higher than what it’s been in the past,” McMillon said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in December. “I think having local law enforcement staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation. … If that is not corrected over time, prices will be higher and/or stores will close.”
The company did not say whether shoplifting was a factor in closing its Walmart locations in the northern and southeastern parts of the Rose City.
However, the Portland Police Department conducted a shoplifting “blitz” earlier this month to crack down on shoplifting across the city, KPTV reported.
“We’re letting big retailers go,” said Jordan Zaitz, a member of the Portland Police Department’s neighborhood team. “I mean, Walmart closing two of its stores is a really big deal. The people in those neighborhoods, that’s where they shop.”
Walmart said the decision to close its Portland stores followed a “careful assessment of their overall performance,” a Walmart spokesperson told local news outlet KPTV last month.
“We consider many factors when making these difficult decisions, including current and projected financial performance, location, population, customer needs and proximity to other nearby stores,” the spokesperson added. “Having decided to move forward, our focus is on our employees and their transition, which is the case here.”
Nearly 600 employees who worked at the two stores face possible layoffs or transfers.
The Post has reached out to Walmart for comment.
Last year, Walmart had 4,720 stores in the US and 10,586 locations around the world.
Other major retailers with stores in Portland have had problems with shoplifting.
Last month, Nike asked city officials for permission to place off-duty police officers in Portland stores with the authority to arrest shoplifters, The Oregonian reported.
One of Nike’s Northeast Portland stores has reportedly been largely closed for months due to an increase in theft incidents.
Last October, local news outlet KGW reported witnessing shoplifting incidents at Nike, Home Depot, and Target.
Jeremy Girard of the Oregon Retail Crime Association told the outlet that shoplifting has reached a “crisis level” in Portland. He estimated that the hardest hit stores lost as much as $5 million a year to theft.