Locked-up merchandise deters theft, but have retailers gone too far?

When the pandemic threat eased, Maureen Holohan was eager to scale back her online shopping and return to physical stores so she could more easily compare prices and scour ingredients on beauty and health care products for herself and her three children.

But that experience was short-lived. In the past six months or so, CVS, Target, and other retailers where Ms. Holohan shops have been locking up more everyday items like deodorant and laundry detergent as a way to reduce theft. And the Chevy Chase, Maryland, resident is now back to shopping online or visiting stores where she doesn’t have to wait for someone to retrieve products.

“I know they’ve got to do something, but locking the stuff up definitely just has me walking by that aisle,” said Ms. Holohan, a business consultant.

Across the retail landscape, businesses have been putting items under lock and key as a quick way to stop thieves. Some are considering extreme measures, including Rite Aid Corp., whose chief retail officer Andre Persaud told analysts on an earnings call late last year that it’s looking at “literally putting everything behind showcases to ensure the products are there for customers who want to buy it.” It’s also considering using off-duty police officers at some of its stores.

But by trying to solve one problem, these businesses may be creating another: turning off shoppers with overreaching measures.

“Everything has changed. We used to be catered to,” said Sheila Schlegel of Queens, New York.

But now, “if you’re coming to the store, there’s one person at that store, and that person you can tell has been there for 15 hours,” said Ms. Schlegel, who recalled an incident where she waited for a sales clerk to unlock an item only to be told he didn’t have the

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Scentre sales hit a record $26.7 billion as shoppers flock back to malls

To keep the malls relevant, Scentre completed a record 3409 lease deals during the year, an increase of 912 on the year prior. This included 2232 renewals and 1177 new merchants, of which 288 are new brands to the portfolio.


For the year, the retail landlord reported funds from operations (FFO) of $1.04 billion, up 20.6 per cent on the 2022 year, and a final distribution of 8.2¢, taking the annual payment to15.75¢, payable on February 28.

Total occupancy was 98.9 per cent, with dining, fashion, health and beauty and jewellery tenants all recording sales growth of close to 30 per cent over the year. The much-maligned department and discount department sales were also stronger at 17 per cent and 21.1 per cent respectively.

Scentre Group also has a hefty development pipeline, and in the past year completed Stage 1 of the $355 million investment in Westfield Knox in Melbourne, including new Woolworths and ALDI supermarkets which opened in December 2022.

There has also been upgrades at Westfield Mt Druitt, including a new rooftop dining, entertainment and leisure precinct, and at Westfield Penrith, with a new fresh food precinct featuring Coles, ALDI, and a Tong Li supermarket.


Rusanow said there was also evidence that shoppers prefer to come back to bricks and mortar stores, and tenants are responding by offering interactive experiences and a wider range of goods that can’t be bought online.

“What we saw during last year is that that level of penetration of online actually reduced back to pre-pandemic levels. And people are happy to leave their homes and come out and interact on a physical level,” he said.

In a recent survey of retailers by CBRE, it reveals there are new store openings on the drawing board amid a renewed focus on bricks-and-mortar

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Fashion sales gain double-digit growth

Fashion sales have risen by 14.4% in January 2022 across Australia compared to the same time last year, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

Overall retail sales were up by 6.3%, with the largest increase seen in the lodging sector of 15.9%.

Restaurants (up 8.8%), jewellery (up 8.4%) and grocery (up 6.3%) also recorded solid growth

Electronics (down 3.2%) and home furnishings (up 0.9%) slowed after strong growth during the pandemic and have been the first categories to soften in retail spending.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said the results – whilst positive overall – also reflect the growing impact of price inflation in some categories (grocery) and a slowing down of high spending in some covid impacted categories (home) in previous years.

“These are solid results in a challenging economic environment where we are seeing consumers becoming more value orientated, taking advantage of the Boxing Day sales,” Zahra said.

“We also saw many Australians celebrating their freedom over the holidays ahead of the cost-of-living pressures biting.”

Zahra said it’s clear the current macroeconomic environment is becoming a challenge for businesses, particularly smaller business, as they navigate rising operating costs in fuel, energy, labour, supply chains, rent and increasing debts, with further interest rate hikes on the agenda ahead.

“Traders have had a greater capacity to absorb these rate increases while spending has remained robust,” Zahra said. “But when spending slows – it will take a hefty toll on retailers, particularly small-scale mum-and-dad businesses.”

Zahra reiterated that the retail industry is a barometer of the wider Australian economy.

“As a $400 billion sector that employs one in ten Australians, retail is vital in holding the economy together.”

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Job cuts: The retailers that have made redundancies in 2023

The retailers making job cutsjob cuts“/

Nearly 15,000 job cuts have been made in retail so far this year in the UK, according to industry research published this week in a “brutal” start to 2023.

Some 14,874 roles have been cut or made redundant since the start of 2023 as rising costs pile pressure on retailers, according to data from the Centre of Retail Research.

Retail Gazette rounds up the retailers that are axing jobs this year.



M&Co plunged into administration in December and although it was rescued by Yours Clothing’s owner, its 170 store estate will close this spring, resulting in the loss of almost 2,000 jobs.

After M&Co appointed administrators for a second time at the end of last year, after previously collapsing in 2020, AK Retail Holdings bought the brand and intellectual property of M&Co.

However, the purchase did not include physical stores, meaning they will now close down at Easter.



Tesco bought the Paperchase brand and related IP in a pre-pack deal last month after it plunged into administration, however, it did not take its stores.

Therefore all 106 UK stores, which employ 800 staff, will close in the coming weeks.



At the start of the year Tesco unveiled plans to axe its remaining food counters and is rolling out a new store management structure, in a suite of store changes that will put more than 2,000 roles at risk.

Over the last couple of years the grocery giant has introduced a new management structure in approximately 350 of its smaller superstores.

The supermarket has also proposed the closure of eight pharmacies, where there are other pharmacies within one mile of a store.

Tesco said all affected colleagues will be offered alternatives roles in-store, adding “where we can work with a third party to offer a

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