In a bold move aimed at safeguarding both their employees and customers, retail giant Target is set to close the doors of nine of its stores across major cities in the United States. This decision comes in response to a surge in theft and violence plaguing these locations, with the company citing the need to prioritize the well-being of their team and guests.
The announcement, which sent shockwaves through the retail industry, was made by Lisa Fickenscher and Carl Campanile on September 26, 2023. It marks a significant shift in strategy for Target, a company known for its commitment to community engagement and economic revitalization.
One of the most notable closures will be the East Harlem location in New York City, which opened to great fanfare in 2010. Target’s presence in this neighborhood was seen as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. However, escalating incidents of theft and violence have forced the company’s hand.
The decision to close these stores is not taken lightly. Target recognizes its responsibility to protect its employees, who have faced growing risks due to the surge in organized retail theft. The company has invested significantly in various strategies to combat theft, including the deployment of additional security personnel and theft deterrent measures. Despite these efforts, the challenges persist, jeopardizing the safety of their dedicated workforce.
Target’s commitment to safety extends beyond its stores’ physical security. The company has provided extensive training to its employees and security teams, equipping them to handle potential safety issues effectively. Moreover, Target has joined forces with the US Department of Homeland Security and actively advocated for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress, underlining its dedication to combatting organized retail theft on a national level.
The closure of these nine stores represents a loss to the affected communities, particularly in East Harlem, where Target had become a staple, offering essential products at accessible prices. Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represented East Harlem during the store’s opening, expressed her concerns, emphasizing the impact on local jobs and the community’s access to affordable goods.
Target, however, remains committed to supporting its employees during this transition. Workers from the closed East Harlem location will be offered opportunities to transfer to other Target stores, minimizing the impact on their livelihoods.
Local officials, too, have voiced their concerns about the closures. Diana Ayala, deputy speaker of the City Council, highlighted the lifeline that the East Harlem store provided to residents, offering jobs and stability for families in the area. The closure’s repercussions will undoubtedly be felt far and wide.
While these store closures are indeed a setback for Target, the company remains firmly committed to its broader mission. With 96 stores in the greater New York City market, employing over 20,000 individuals, Target will continue to serve communities across the region. They maintain a strong presence in Manhattan, with locations in Times Square, Union Square, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Washington Heights. Additionally, Target is preparing to expand its footprint with a new development at 121 W. 125th St. in Harlem, further emphasizing its long-term commitment to the area.
Target’s journey in East Harlem, which began with a massive “Hello Harlem” sign in 2010, was a testament to the company’s determination to integrate with the community. They went to great lengths to win over Harlemites, engaging in charitable donations, renovating a public library, and offering merchandise created by local artists. Their inventory catered to the diverse population, featuring Spanish-language and Ebony greeting cards, Gospel and Latin music, Spanish-language books and movies, religious candles, and multicultural dolls.
This decision by Target reflects the growing concern among major retailers regarding the safety of their employees and customers. Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, has been vocal about the issue, with safety incidents associated with theft increasing by 120% during the first five months of 2023. Target is determined to address these challenges head-on and ensure the safety of everyone within their stores.
As Target prepares to close these nine stores, their commitment to safety and community engagement remains unwavering. The retail giant will continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing retail landscape, putting the safety and well-being of their employees and customers at the forefront of their mission.