Walgreens debuts new-style anti-theft store in Chicago
Stand by for inflationary price hikes, as costs will soar with a labor-intensive format for new thief-resistant drugstores in the face of skyrocketing urban crime. And you thought inflation might ease?
YouTube screen grab (cropped).
Walgreens, which has closed about 750 stores in the last few years, just debuted a theft-resistant format in a redesigned store in downtown Chicago. As CWBChicago reports, it has a lot more staff than a regular store, where customers (and thieves) help themselves to merchandise off the shelves.
In what was once a typical Walgreens, there are now just two short aisles of so-called "essentials," where "customers may shop for themselves." If you want anything else — a bottle of booze, a deodorant brand deemed "non-essential" — you'll need to order it at a kiosk and pick it up at the counter.
Here is a picture that Walgreens provided:
"This redesigned store will have the latest in e-commerce offerings to increase customer service, mitigate theft, and increase safety for our customers and employees," the company said in a pre-opening statement.
And, boy, are there a lot of employees. Three greet you inside the front door, essentially asking why you're there.
The pharmacy is in the back and to the left, equipped with a fancy new kiosk system of its own. An employee will teach you how to use it.
To the right, two rows of shelved offerings, gated by anti-shoplifting devices to protect the inventory, is a very limited selection of those so-called "essentials."
Unlike the tall shelves you're used to seeing in your neighborhood Walgreens, this store's shelves are no more than five feet tall, giving everyone a clear look at what everyone else is up to.
When we visited on Wednesday morning, two employees were dedicated to the "shop for yourself" section.
People who think shoplifting harms only big retailers who can afford it are deluding themselves. Retail theft — actually, any theft at any point in the production and distribution chain — goes into the cost calculations to set prices. When those costs go up, so do prices, at least until the point where a store become unprofitable and is closed. The organized criminal gangs that have been looting stores in the San Francisco Bay Area are in effect looting their neighbors' budgets in a time when budgets are already stressed by inflation.
Still, these more expensive store formats are far better than having nowhere close by to go to fill a prescription.
It's a sad commentary on the state of life in the USA these days.
Hat tip: Peter von Buol.