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Walmart and Target Workers Say They're Afraid of Their Stores' Parking Lots

Employees say they feel most unsafe outside of their stores.

It's no secret that parking lots carry hidden hazards. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have warned about different scams that occur outside of stores, and the news is filled with reports of retail theft, creating even more perilous situations in the parking lots. That's not to mention the more obvious dangers of dozens and dozens of cars navigating a small space. As it turns out, these concerns aren't limited to shoppers: Walmart and Target employees say that they feel unsafe in their stores' parking lots. Read on to find out why employees are afraid, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.

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Employees are familiar with the dangers in store parking lots.

target order pickup in parking lot
Tada Images / Shutterstock

Twelve anonymous Walmart and Target employees spoke with Insider about the more dangerous aspects of their jobs—and several said the parking lot is where they feel the most unsafe, fearing both violence and inattentive drivers.

Employees were particularly concerned about unsafe drivers, with one Walmart associate noting that customers "turn the parking lot into their own personal race course."

Taking matters into their own hands, a Target worker said he and a fellow employee counted the number of drivers who stopped at a stop sign near the store's front door, telling Insider that 40 percent "blew right through" it.

To address safety concerns, a Target employee in Texas also told the outlet that workers who frequent the parking lot are required to wear reflective vests. However, this isn't a foolproof plan, as the employee added that sometimes drivers still don't notice them due to distractions like texting.

Best Life reached out to both Walmart and Target for comment, and will update the story upon hearing back.

Police are also investigating recent violent crimes in parking lots.

target parking lot
LMWH / Shutterstock

In just the last few weeks, there have been several reports of collisions and violence in parking lots, including the death of a 27-year-old Walmart employee in Denver, Colorado, who was killed when he was hit by a car last month. According to Denver7, the victim was returning carts from the parking lot to the store when he was struck by an 83-year-old driver.

Gun violence is also occurring in parking lots, including a deadly shooting at a Walmart in Hobbs, Texas, and a fight that ended with a man being shot in the neck at a Walmart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Last month, a shooting in a Target parking lot in St. Paul, Minnesota, left one dead, while another shooting was reported outside another Target in Montgomery, Alabama, though the latter didn't result in any injuries.

But the violence isn't limited to the two big-box retailers. Another fatal shooting occurred at a shopping center in Lake Park, Florida, on May 17. That same day, a brawl erupted outside a Wegmans in Chesterfield, Missouri, following a fender bender. An injured man died the following evening, NBC-affiliate KSDKreported.

"It's scary and it's the kind of thing that you hate to see happening," shopper Tommie Harsley told KSDK of the incident at Wegmans.

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The numbers speak for themselves.

Full Airport Parking Lot

While Walmart and Target employees may fear their own parking lots, data shows that there are dangers lurking in parking lots nationwide.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, 80 people were killed in parking lots across America, according to data from D&D Daily, a news site for retail loss prevention, asset protection, and IT security professionals.

That number is up from the same time in 2021, when 65 were killed in parking lots, and 2020, when 35 lost their lives.

Be proactive in the parking lot.

woman carrying groceries to car
encierro / Shutterstock

There are a few precautions that you can take when walking through a parking lot, whether you're on your way to work or running in to shop. In any parking lot or garage, you should be aware of your surroundings, according to recommendations from in-vehicle security company OnStar.

If you're shopping during the early morning hours or at night, try to say in well-lit areas, and always use crosswalks and walkways. Once you're safely inside your vehicle, OnStar also says you shouldn't linger before leaving.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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