Recently, numerous chains have announced efforts to combat shoplifting. For example, Target recently told investors that the chain expects heavy losses from “theft and organized crime.” Walgreens made similar claims a few years ago, alleging it closed several stores due to the prevalence of theft.
Regardless, stores are responding to apparent shoplifting fears by complicating the buying process.
For example, users online have reported that some Target locations are locking certain items up behind glass. Others have noted Target’s recent implementation of “anti-theft” carts in a few locations: carts that lock up once they hit a certain radius outside the store. Walmart has also hopped on this trend, with some stores sectioning off their cosmetics areas from the rest of the store.
While this may be effective in reducing shoplifters, some claim it creates an unpleasant experience for shoppers. For example, a user on TikTok recently noted that buying cosmetics, a video game, and groceries from Walmart now requires 3 different check-out procedures and transactions.
TikTok user Frönk (@iceage3isadocum) shared a similar experience in a video with over 36,000 views.
“I went to a Walmart the other day that had taken the loss prevention thing to such a higher level than I had ever seen,” the TikToker recalls.
Its just like spending $100/hr on cops to stop someone jumping a $1.75 transit fee♬ original sound – Frönk
In the clip, the TikToker says they were trying to purchase a $4 battery that was locked up in a case. After pressing a call button for an attendant to unlock the case, they proceeded to wait for 10 minutes. An attendant never came.
“All of these places have been shrinking their workforces and they don’t have enough employees to handle this,” the TikToker observes. “…Pretty much every employee they have is getting harassed and overworked.”
The TikToker goes on to say that they observed a line of people similarly waiting to purchase makeup. The associate was unable to unlock the cases for them as they did not have a key and did not know who did.
The TikToker says they eventually left the store without purchasing their needed battery.
“I don’t understand how it financially makes sense to stop someone from stealing like a $5 product, but then miss out on hundreds of dollars of sales,” the TikToker shares. “People are just getting up and leaving because they can’t get what they want.”
In the comments section, users shared similar stories.
“I stopped going to the Walgreens by me for this exact reason,” alleged a user. “literally everything useful is locked away.”
“Dude I waited for 30 minutes at target the other day for someone to unlock a hair curler for me bc they lost the magnet to unlock ALL of the beauty and hair products,” remembered another. “There were like 30 other ppl standing around waiting for sh*t to be unlocked.”
“I worked there and I can confirm [that’s] exactly what mine was like,” wrote a third. “They would never give you keys even if you asked for MONTHS.”
Some offered potential reasons as to why the company may do this.
“I’m beginning to think they’re TRYING to drive ppl away as a way to justify switching to online only to their investors,” offered a commenter.
“They’d rather just blame it on ‘shoplifting’ then incompetence on their part,” suggested another.
“honestly I’m not convinced the goal is money for these companies anymore,” bemoaned an additional TikToker. “the goal is misery for everyone there.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Walmart via its Media Relations Contact form and Frönk via TikTok direct message.