This Iconic Chain Is Closing Stores Due to "Safety and Security Challenges"
Retail crime is rising rapidly throughout the U.S.
Retailers big and small have had to pare down their retail footprint over the past few years due to the financial impacts of the COVID pandemic. But that's not the only reason stores have been closing. Last November, Walgreens permanently closed several of its locations in San Francisco because of "organized retail crime." More recently, Starbucks closed 16 of its stores throughout in the U.S. in July over apparent safety concerns, and other locations have since been shuttered for the same reason. Now, another iconic chain is citing "safety and security challenges" in reference to news that it's closing stores. Read on to find out which company is losing locations.
READ THIS NEXT: This Popular Retail Chain Is Closing Stores, Starting Oct. 29.
Retail crime is rising throughout the U.S.
Crime has been an increasing concern for retailers over the last year. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), many large companies have been hit by organized retail crime (ORC), which is the "large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to resell the items for financial gain." The NRF's latest National Retail Security Survey report found that retailers experienced an average 26.5 percent increase in ORC incidents in 2021 compared to the year prior.
"Organized retail crime is leading to more brazen and more violent attacks in retail stores throughout the country," Steve Francis, the executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, told the Buy Safe America Coalition. "Many of the criminal rings orchestrating these thefts are also involved in other serious criminal activity such as human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, weapon trafficking, and more. Tackling this growing threat is important to the safety of store employees, customers, and communities across the country."
Now, one iconic chain is having to close some of its stores for related concerns.
These locations are closing amid "safety and security challenges."
Fans of one of the most iconic convenience store and gas station chains will be losing some locations soon. Wawa has just announced that it is planning to close two of its stores in Center City Philadelphia due to "continued safety and security challenges and business factors," local ABC-affiliate WPVI reported on Oct. 13. According to the news outlet, the convenience store chain is closing locations at 12th and Market Streets and 19th and Market Streets.
"We are very sorry we can't be there for our friends and neighbors at these two locations, but we continue to serve the community from our other nearby stores and our commitment to the greater region remains strong," a spokesperson for the company told WPVI. "Philadelphia is our hometown and that's something that will never change."
An employee was recently injured at a Wawa in Philadelphia.
Authorities in Philadelphia said a Wawa employee was pepper sprayed during an early morning robbery on Oct. 13, Fox 29 reported. According to police, a group of five entered the Wawa store around 1 a.m. and ended up stealing $100 worth of merchandise. "I heard they pepper sprayed the employees that worked at Wawa," customer Alfie Coker of South Philadelphia told WPVI. "The city is just out of control at the moment."
There was also another incident at a Wawa in the Mayfair area of Philadelphia last month where a store was hit by a mob of around 100 young teens. "It was approximately 50 to 100 people," Philadelphia Police Captain John J. Ryan told CBS News. "The Wawa was completely sacked by the kids coming inside and destroying things, and thankfully there were no injuries to the Wawa, personnel, or to responding police."
Virginia Carrington, a regular Wawa customer from West Philadelphia, told WPVI that retail crime like this in the city just keeps "getting worse" over time. "I don't even understand why they keep doing this. It doesn't make any sense," Carrington said.
The two Wawa stores will be closing soon.
Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the two Philadelphia stores are set to close "over the next few weeks." An unnamed spokesperson for the company also told WPVI that all the workers at both locations will be offered "continued employment" at Wawa stores. There are currently 40 of the iconic convenience store chain's locations operating in Philadelphia, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Three other Wawa stores in the city have closed since 2020.
The company said that the two Market Street closures "do not necessarily impact or limit the potential for future stores" in the county, adding that they will continue to monitor safety and security challenges. "These closures do not diminish in any way our on-going commitment to serve the Philadelphia community or our acknowledgment of the effort and support we continue to receive from local police," a Wawa spokesperson told WPVI. "It is our hope to repurpose these two locations to further benefit Philadelphia."
But during an Oct. 11 town hall-style forum hosted by the Philadelphia Real Estate Alliance, Philadelphia Democratic council member Mike Driscol said that an unidentified senior Wawa official told him that the company is "seriously considering" halting expansion plans in the city due to crime, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. "They've had to invest in security, and those of you that have these office buildings [know that] security doesn't add anything to your bottom line, it takes away from your bottom line. But without it, then you're in deep trouble. So they are spending money, they're losing money," Driscol said.