Officials in Atlanta say they plan to reopen a Walmart that closed earlier this year after being destroyed by arson.
The Vine City location will reopen next spring and will include a mini-precinct that will serve as a "police landing space," according to Atlanta City Council Member Byron Amos. The location includes a space for officers in the neighborhood to file reports and rest.
The Walmart fire was one of two arsons involving major retailers in Atlanta. A Target store in the area was also subjected to an arson in January.
Investigators say they believe the suspects intentionally started the fires to create a distraction to allow them to shoplift items as customers fled from the fire.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said more needs to be done at some stores to protect customers and the business from crime.
"Shrink is comprised of more than one thing," he said. "That's a part of it. And we do think that in some jurisdictions here in the US, there needs to be action taken to help protect people from crime, including theft. The other part of shrink is more controllable, and we stay focused on that as a priority."
Recently, companies have cited crime and theft for causing a drop in profits. For instance, Dick's Sporting Goods recently reported an astounding 23% drop in net income in the second quarter of 2023 compared to 2022. The company cited thefts as a primary culprit.
"Two key factors impacted our second quarter gross margin relative to our original expectations," said Lauren Hobart, Dick's Sporting Goods CEO. "The first was the impact of higher inventory shrink, organized retail crime and theft in general, an increasingly serious issue impacting many retailers. Based on the results from our most recent physical inventory cycle, the impact of theft on our shrink was meaningful to both our Q2 results and our go-forward expectations for the balance of the year. We are doing everything we can to address the problem and keep our stores, teammates, and athletes safe."
Target also noted these safety issues at stores.
"Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction," Target CEO Brian Cornell told investors last month. "During the first five months of this year, our store saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence. As a result, we're continuing to work tirelessly with retail industry groups and community partners to find solutions to promote safety for our store teams and our guests."
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