When Target announced they were closing an SF store in SoMa, they blamed “theft and organized retail crime.” Uhh, turns out that Target had the least reported crime of any Target store in the entire Bay Area.
Oh, the fuss that was made when Target announced in September that they were closing their store at Folsom and 13th streets, among several other Target stores, with the explanation that “we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests.” And it seemed plausible enough, because as the Associated Press pointed out, that South of Market Target was located “under a busy overpass with homeless tents in a largely commercial neighborhood with auto shops.”
Earlier this year, Target said it was closing 9 stores in 4 states because theft and organized retail crime had made them too dangerous to run.— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 19, 2023
But a @CNBC investigation found the closed locations generally saw fewer reported crimes than others nearby. https://t.co/lMxfkUElLk
But CNBC dug into the numbers, and the crime excuse suddenly seems less plausible. CNBC analyzed data and found that particular SoMa Target had the fewest reported crime incidents of any Target in the Bay Area. Moreover, they found the same pattern where the Target stores simultaneously closed in Portland, Seattle, and New York City all had significantly lower reported crime incidents than the ones that remain open.
CNBC's investigation showed that crime at the Ballard Target was lower than at other stores in Seattle that the retailer chose to keep open. https://t.co/DiuZsjMwnk— My Ballard (@myballard) December 22, 2023
CNBC analyzed reported crime incidents during the 32-month period between January 2021 and September 2023 (when the closures were announced). They found the Folsom Street Target experienced only 84 reported crime incidents during that period. Meanwhile, the Metreon Target, which certainly gets hit by crime, had 486 such incidents (nearly six times as much crime!) yet it remains open. Meanwhile, the Target at Stonestown had 123 crime incidents, and it too remains open. So was the crime excuse a publicity stunt meant to hide other unflattering metrics?
“I don’t want to use the word ‘stunt,’ because I don’t know exactly what went on in Minneapolis [where Target is based], but to me, it read like a stunt, looking to divert attention from the company’s lack of performance overall,” previous Sears Canada and Lazarus CEO Mark Cohen told CNBC.
“They did not disclose their actual shortage statistics,” Cohen added. “They talked about it in general terms; they did not disclose any other factors that would have caused them to decide to close any of those stores. They implied that the only reason they were closing the stores was because of theft. That may or may not be true. My guess is: Not true.”
Hey, weird, Target lied about crime to advance its legislative agenda. https://t.co/AlPYFSI5AZ— Ron Davis (@ronpdavis) December 19, 2023
CNBC has previously established that employee theft and self-checkout theft are larger factors than big retailers would like to admit, as are gift card theft and return fraud. And another CNBC report questions whether retailers have a legislative agenda to push to mask what may have been their own questionable business decisions.
A pattern we see in all of the Target closures is that there was another Target store within a short drive, perhaps even within walking distance. The Target stores that remained open had higher crime rates, but were also in more affluent zip codes, and had more foot traffic. So perhaps like Walgreens, they simply opened too many stores that were close to one another, and the stores cannibalized one another’s business.
Image: Google Street View