Race and security meet in lawsuit brought against Walmart
Walmart’s decision to lock up beauty products designed for African-Americans behind a glass case is an act of racial discrimination, according to a woman who is suing the chain.
Essie Grundy, who has brought the suit against the retailer, said that items she wished to purchase at a Walmart in Perris, CA required that she find a store associate to open a case. On one of her trips to the store, she sought to purchase a comb that sold for 48 cents. The associate who unlocked the case for her said Ms. Grundy would need to go to the register to pay for the item before she could continue her shopping.
“I was angry, I was sad, frustrated and humiliated all at the same time,” she told The New York Times in describing her experience.
For its part, Walmart says that security protocols are set up on a store-by-store basis and that items secured in the Perris location are different than those locked up in others.
Shoplifting is a major issue for retailers running businesses on low margins and with little room for error. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and University of Florida’s National Retail Security Survey, the average loss per shoplifting incident is $798.48. Theft, accounts for 1.44 percent of all retail sales.
According to the survey, nearly half of all retailers reported increases in losses due to shrink last year. Shoplifting/organized retail crime was cited by 36.5 percent as the most prominent factor in those increases.
“The seriousness of retail theft is much greater than most customers realize,” said Richard Hollinger, a University of Florida criminology professor and the lead author of the NRF report, last year. “When criminals steal from retailers, consumers pay higher prices, the safety of innocent employees can be compromised and shoppers looking for popular merchandise often cannot find it.”
- Walmart’s Locking Up of Certain Beauty Products Is Racial Discrimination, Suit Claims – The New York Times
- NRF/University of Florida Survey Says Retail Shrink Increased to $48.9 Billion in 2016 – National Retail Federation
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do retailers need to do a better job in explaining store security practices to customers? What is your take on the lawsuit being brought against Walmart?