Walmart Will Finally Stop Locking Up This One Product After Years

The retail giant has responded to complaints that this practice was discriminatory.

It's been two-and-a-half weeks since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer incited a call for racial justice not only in America, but around the world. The country has since seen some changes—in regards to police, public policy, and the removal of Confederate statues—but there is still a lot of work to be done. Now, Walmart, the world's largest retail chain, is making a small change that could make a big difference for many Black women in particular. They announced that they are ending the policy of putting multicultural beauty products in locked cases, amid complaints that the practice was discriminatory.

In an email statement released to the media on Wednesday, Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez wrote: "As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind." Lopez noted that, like other retailers, Walmart locked up certain items at a limited number of locations to "deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics, and other personal care products."

"We're sensitive to the issue and understand the concerns raised by our customers and members of the community and have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products—a practice in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide—in locked cases," Lopez wrote.

Walmart superstore in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Sam Dao / Alamy Stock Photo

The announcement comes just days after a Walmart customer, Lauren Epps, who is Black, made headlines after noticing her Walmart in Denver only locked up multicultural hair products behind glass.

"If I want Suave or Tresemme or Pantene, it's out. The multicultural hair care is all locked behind the glass," she told her local CBS News affiliate. "People don't realize what we have to go through on a daily basis."

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Essie Grundy, a Black woman in California, sued Walmart in federal court in 2018 for discrimination over the policy. She said she felt humiliated after having to ask a store employee to unlock the beauty products case on three separate visits, including to buy a comb that cost $0.48. "I would like the glass to go down, and for things to go back to the way it was, where it's not segregated and everything is where everyone can get what they need," she said at a press conference at the time.

The practice of selling certain products from locked cases is not unique to Walmart. CVS and Walgreens have also faced criticism over this practice. What's different now is that, as a result of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, many corporate brands are expressing support for what is looking more and more like a national reckoning on race relations. And for more action that's been taken, check out 6 Celebrities Who Were Fired After Being Accused of Racism.


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