The CEO of Best Buy said that employees are being traumatized by the spike in burglaries at the company’s stores.
“We are seeing more loosely-organized groups come together and target our stores, and frankly, you are seeing it across retail,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC, “targeting stores and going in and grabbing large swaths of merchandise and running out.”
“What I would really stress here is for our employees, these are traumatic experiences, and they are happening more and more across the country,” the CEO said.
The company has seen organized crime rise, sometimes with criminals bringing weapons such as guns or crowbars when they steal from stores, Barry said. She promised that Best Buy will prioritize the safety of customers and employees.
Barry added that Best Buy is taking several steps to address and prevent crime sprees from occurring in the stores and endangering employees and customers.
“Obviously their safety is our first priority, and so we’re putting a multitude of measures in place, whether that’s locking some of the products up, whether that’s working with our vendor partners, whether that is working with local law enforcement or working with some of our trade federations,” she said.
The recent spike in theft is harming the international electronics retailer’s profits and could also damage the company’s ability to retain employees, the CEO said.
“When we talk about why there are so many people looking for other jobs or switching careers, this of course would be something that would play into my concerns for our people because, again, priority one is just human safety,” she said. “And it’s hard to deal with this potentially multiple times in one location.”
“It’s just really been a horrible change in the trajectory of the business and one of the things we’re working hard to try to stem,” Barry added.
Best Buy is far from the only retailer to be suffering from increased crime sprees. Companies like Kroger, CVS Health, and Walgreens have also said that their stores have been affected by an increase in theft.
Last month, Walgreens said it would close five stores in San Francisco due to organized retail theft. San Francisco has seen a particularly high number of robberies involving merchandise worth tens of thousands of dollars, including at high-end stores like Louis Vuitton.
“Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average” even though the company has increased security, a Walgreens spokesperson said.
On Tuesday, Best Buy beat its fiscal third-quarter earnings estimates. However, the company’s stock also fell on Tuesday due to concerns about higher shipping costs and weaker demand for consumer electronics.
The company thrived during the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic when Americans bought technology products for their home offices and invested in new kitchen appliances.
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