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Walgreens: “Maybe We Cried Too Much” About Theft

CFO says drugstore chain may have overstated concerns about organized shoplifting.

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Walgreens may view organized retail crime as a lesser threat than it had previously, with CFO James Kehoe indicating the drugstore chain might have overstated its original concerns about theft at its stores.

“Maybe we cried too much last year,” Kehoe said on an earnings call last week, noting Walgreens’ shrink levels have decreased from 3.5 percent of sales in 2022 down to 2.5-2.6 percent. He added that he was “quite happy” with the current rate.

He also said Walgreens would consider pulling back on its investments in security companies, which have “proven to be largely ineffective.” Alternatively, the retailer would look to strengthen partnerships with law enforcement.

Other retailers may not be as quick to walk back their worries as it relates to organized shoplifting.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon recently warned of store closures if shrink kept swelling at its stores, saying “theft is higher than what it has historically been.”

Rite Aid recently said it would consider “literally putting everything behind showcases” as a response to growing theft at its NYC-area stores.

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Target, meanwhile, cited organized theft as a significant driver of a $400 million loss in profit last year.

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