Hands Off Scumbags–This Changes Shopping for Everyone.

Walgreens, a leading retail store, recently introduced unique anti-theft methods in its revamped Chicago shop. They aim to fight the growing problem of retail theft. But, there have been complaints from customers who say they can no longer shop independently.

Senior executives at Walgreens made major modifications to their stores to fight against thefts. These crimes have been rising at retail locations. Big stores like Walgreens are prime targets because it’s easy to steal from them.

At one Walgreens store located at 2 East Roosevelt in downtown Chicago, the whole shop was entirely reshaped. Now, there are just two small aisles where customers can do self-shopping. These “reachable merchandise” aisles are mostly filled with food and drinks in a “Grab & Go Snacks” section, as well as other necessary items.

The rest of the shop is set up behind counters manned by staff. Customers can shop using a digital kiosk system here. They can pick the products they want to buy. After they decide, customers go to the checkout counter, where a staff member gathers their chosen items. This new way of shopping is also used in the shop’s medicine area.

After placing an order, a sign next to the kiosk asks customers to “relax while we shop for you.” Customers will then be called to the counter to collect their items once the staff has selected them.

A Walgreens spokesperson shared that the changes are planned to enhance the overall shopping experience. This is in response to the growing number of retail thefts across America. The newly designed Chicago shop is a trial for new ideas, technologies, and ways of working.

“The store will still provide retail products and pharmacy services. It’s just with a new appearance that emphasizes digital shopping for ease,” said the spokesperson.

Walgreens has been a notable target of a series of well-known shoplifting incidents impacting big stores across the country. These crimes are especially common in large cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco and are often committed by organized retail crime gangs.

Walgreens itself stated that it’s been dealing with organized retail crime since 2021. This was when it announced the closing of five shops in the San Francisco area, blaming excessive shoplifting for the shutdowns.

During a profits call earlier this year, James Kehoe, the Chief Financial Officer of Walgreens, mentioned that shrinkage, or loss of stock due to reasons including theft, was around 3.5 percent of sales last year. However, it’s now in the mid-two percentages.

“We’re quite pleased with where we are. It’s around 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent,” Keho said. “That’s well under the levels from the year before.”

Kehoe credited the drop to the gradual addition of new safety features at shops during the first quarter of 2023. But, he admitted some of these features might be “too much,” and the company plans to remove some of them. This includes stopping the use of private security and instead depending on local law enforcement for security.