Walmart’s recent announcement to close half of its stores in Chicago comes as the city faces rampant crime and civil unrest. Despite the alarming correlation, politicians and media outlets continue to downplay the connection, showcasing their deceptive and ignorant stance on the issue.
So, what has led to Walmart’s decision in a city of 2.7 million people? In a news release, the company stated, “Collectively, our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago — these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years.” While Walmart is well-versed in the costs of running a store, the problem arises when merchandise losses exceed expectations, cutting into profits.
Crime has become so rampant in major cities like Chicago that police are overwhelmed and understaffed, unable to respond to shoplifting calls. Consequently, many store chains have policies discouraging employees from stopping shoplifters, fearing potential harm. This environment invites criminals to help themselves, leaving companies to absorb the loss.
In response to recent events, Walmart has followed in the footsteps of Whole Foods in San Francisco, Nike in Seattle, and Cracker Barrel in Portland, along with countless small businesses that have closed their doors. These closures negatively impact communities, resulting in lost jobs and diminished charitable investments from companies like Walmart.
Instead of addressing the root cause, politicians like Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticize Walmart for “unceremoniously abandoning these neighborhoods,” which she claims will create barriers to basic needs for thousands of residents. Yet, she offers no condemnation of the criminals responsible for driving these stores out of business.
Chicago’s politicians have the opportunity to preserve businesses in their city by addressing the crime epidemic and holding criminals accountable. However, history suggests they will instead continue to blame corporations for their own failures, while their once-great city crumbles from within.