Home Depot Is Locking Up More Products: "It's Very Inconvenient," Worker Says

The home improvement retailer is making more moves to battle retail theft.

Over the last few years, retailers across the board have been sounding the alarm on one major increasing problem: retail theft. Companies have made various attempts to try to combat this, like Walmart threatening store closures or Walgreens' new hands-off store design. Home Depot has now started locking up more products in its stores, but many customers are less-than-thrilled. Read on to find out why one worker says this is "very inconvenient."

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Home Depot has had a significant increase in retail theft.

close up consumer thief's hands putting the new gadget in the pocket in the store
iStock

Shoplifting has surged significantly in the last few years. According to a 2022 report from the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 72 percent of retailers say they have seen an increase in the risk of retail theft since before the pandemic. The NRF also found that organized retail crime costs stores an average of over $700,000 per $1 billion in sales in 2020—which is an increase of more than 50 percent from five years prior.

"Organized retail crime is what I call theft for greed, not theft for need," Scott Glenn, vice president for asset protection at the Home Depot, told ABC News in June. "[But] they don't just come to a Home Depot and then decide to go home … they go to Target, they go to Lowe's, they go to CVS, they go anywhere."

Home Depot has investigated roughly 400 cases of suspected organized retail theft in the past year alone—which is more than one shoplifting scenario at its stores every single day, Glenn told the news outlet. As a result, the home improvement retailer loses "billions of dollars a year," according to the Home Depot official.

The retailer is locking up more products to prevent this.

Home Depot Paint Aisle
The Image Party/Shutterstock

Like many other retailers, Home Depot has decided to lock away certain items to combat retail theft attempts. But some of the company's employees recently told The San Francisco Standard that more and more products are being secured from shoppers. According to the news outlet, while Home Depot started locking more expensive items like power tools behind cages in January, workers say that now even everyday things are being locked up.

"It used to be big-ticket items, but now even the detergent is locked up," a worker at the Home Depot store in Emeryville, California, told The San Francisco Standard. Locked up products now include less expensive things like phone chargers, work gloves, and shower drain covers, according to the news outlet.

When Best Life reached out to Home Depot about these reports, the retailer confirmed that it has been securing more items because of shoplifting troubles. "As organized retail crime continues to be on the rise, we've incrementally increased the amount of products that are locked up," Evelyn Fornes, Home Depot's senior manager of public affairs, said in a statement.

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Some workers say this tactic is "inconvenient."

Home Depot retail store worker checks for coronavirus symptoms pandemic 2020
Shutterstock

Shoppers have long been expressing their frustrations with locked up products at different retailers, including Home Depot. But now even the employees themselves seem to be growing more irritated with this protection measure. "It just became a nuisance," one Home Depot worker who asked to remain anonymous told The San Francisco Standard.

Others explained that they can see the trouble it is creating for customers, who grow irritated that only specific store associates can provide access to certain products. "I can't unlock hardware because I don't have the code, and they can't unlock plumbing because only I have the code," another Home Depot worker told the new outlet. "It's very inconvenient."

But Home Depot appears to be sticking to this protection measure.

Man shopping for electrical supplies at the local Home Depot retail home improvement store in Snohomish, Washington.
Shutterstock

Complaints from both customers and workers are not likely to change anything, however. According to Fornes, locking up products is a "common solution to prevent theft" and Home Depot is also using it to make sure it is keeping shoppers and workers safe amid aggressive shoplifting attempts. "Power tools and other high value, high risk products will always have multiple layers of security involved as they are some of the most desirable to bad actors," she told Best Life.

Fornes also indicated that Home Depot has not seen actual pushback from the large majority of its consumers. "Most shoppers have expressed that they do not mind waiting on an associate to unlock the boxes because it means the product is consistently available in store," she said. "That said, we're constantly exploring new, innovative solutions to balance safety and convenience for the vast majority of our customers."

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