Home Depot Won't Let You Shop Without Doing This, Effective Immediately
The home improvement retailer has made a change in stores to keep a rising problem in check.
Millions of shoppers in the U.S. turn to Home Depot for their home improvement needs, whether that's picking up new paint for their house or browsing stock for remodeling inspiration. But if you're one of these customers, you'll want to be aware of a significant change that could affect the way you shop at these stores. Home Depot has recently started implementing a new policy to try to prevent retail theft, a rising problem for stores across the country. Read on to find out what the retailer is now requiring shoppers to do.
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Home Depot Employees.
Retail theft has been on the rise recently.
Many retailers in the U.S. are fighting against a rise in retail theft, with various nationwide reports showing that everyone from Walmart to CVS is dealing with this problem. 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 shoplifting 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.
"The retail industry—already struggling from the impacts of the pandemic, labor shortages and supply chain problems—is now faced with large-scale theft and looting, much of it stemming from organized crime," Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. "Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve. We call on policymakers to tackle this problem head-on before it gets further out of control. No store should have to close because of theft."
Home Depot has faced a number of shoplifting incidents recently.
Home Depot has not been spared from the rise in retail theft. Just last month, two twin brothers from Round Lake, Illinois, were sentenced to four years in prison for stealing from several Home Depot stores, the Daily Herald reported. They were also ordered to repay $933,666 back to the home improvement retailer—which is the amount investigators estimate the pair had stolen from Home Depot stores in over 20 states.
Then on Sept. 14, Fox 5 Atlanta reported that a theft ring targeting Home Depot stores across the U.S. had just been busted in Coweta County, Georgia. According to the news outlet, deputies from the county said they seized two minivans full of large plastic storage bins stolen from Home Depot filled with other stolen merchandise from the retailer. Investigators in this case report that five people are responsible for stealing more than $300,000 worth of products from Home Depot stores across the nation.
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The store is now taking precautionary measures.
Home Depot is now working to prevent the theft before it happens. The Wall Street Journal reported that Home Depot has been locking up more products within its stores in order to crack down on retail theft. Retail executives explain that stores like Home Depot track high-risk goods and lock them up in regions or locations that are being hit hardest. With that new policy in place, you won't be able to shop for certain products without asking an employee for assistance.
Over the past 12 months, Home Depot confirmed that it has been locking up more of its products in stores while it is testing "more customer-friendly, higher-tech solutions" to stopping shoplifting. "It's a triage-type scenario. It's stop the bleeding and give yourself some time," Scott Glenn, vice president of asset protection at Home Depot, told The Wall Street Journal.
According to Glenn, overall theft attempts at the retailer's stores continue to rise compared to pre-pandemic times. But in stores where Home Depot has implemented aggressive theft deterrents, loss to theft has been reduced and sales for high-theft items gradually go up because the store is able to keep them more consistently in-stock.
Home Depot is not the only retailer locking up more products.
The Wall Street Journal reported that shoppers are also finding more products locked up at Best Buy stores. One of the retailer's stores in the suburbs of Houston has replaced hundreds of items on shelves—including Bose speakers and Fitbit activity trackers—with blue signs that say, "This product kept in secured location." Customers are notified that they will need to ask a store employee for help if they are shopping for any of these items.
"There used to be a lot more on the floor itself than locked up in cages," Gary Pearce, a 47-year-old manager at a disaster restoration company who shops at this Best Buy store weekly, told The Wall Street Journal.
But Damien Harmon, executive vice president of omnichannel for Best Buy, told the newspaper that across all the company's U.S. stores, less than 5 percent of its products are locked up or in backrooms for theft-protection reasons. According to Harmon, the company's inventory is now held differently due to the rise in online shopping. But the executive told The Wall Street Journal that the retailer doesn't get many comments or feedback from customers about products being locked up.