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