Walmart, the department store chain that has nearly 5,000 stores around the country, announced that this month it will permanently close all of its locations in Portland, Oregon. The company assured that the reasons were financial. However, the decision was made public only a few months after Walmart's own CEO highlighted that retail crime has been affecting the company.
The chain explained that the decision was made to close the Walmart at Hayden Meadows and East Port Plaza after a "careful review" of the overall performance of these stores. A company spokesperson explained:
We consider many factors, including current and projected financial performance, location, population, customer needs, and the proximity of other nearby stores when making these difficult decisions. Our focus right now is taking care of our associates during this transition and working with our customers to transition their pharmacy, and other, shopping needs to nearby stores.
Walmart warning on retail crime
In December, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon had already warned that there was a possibility of closing some of the stores and also raising some prices because of the way retail crime has affected some of its stores.
"Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been," he said, noting that if the authorities did not take action, they would have to opt to shut down some Walmart locations.
Walmart closing stores in Portland, Washington D.C, and Chicago after CEO warns if historically high rates of theft https://t.co/mzCLMJmQEt
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) March 4, 2023
Crime in Portland
Oregon's most populated city is experiencing a major crime crisis. During 2022, the number of homicides reached a new record high, and robberies and the high homeless population have been some of the specific reasons why many businesses have decided to leave the city.
Recently a clothing store called Rains PDX explained that it had to close its doors in the city after facing several robberies. The store's statement said:
Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business, in our city’s current state. We have no protection, or recourse, against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished. Do not be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins … we have not received any financial reimbursement since the 3rd.
Nike also closed one of its stores in the city late last year after dealing with several robberies. Late last year, Katherine Sealy, owner of Event Cosmetics in downtown Portland said that every business owner she knows has experienced at least one crime-related incident.
"I've unfortunately seen a lot of my fellow business owners have to close their doors forever," she said.