Target to close 2 Seattle stores, citing crime and safety

Sep 27, 2023, 8:04 AM | Updated: 8:04 am

Target stores...

Target is closing stores across the country, including Seattle and Portland. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Target says it will close two stores in Seattle with crime and safety being cited as the reasons.

The company said in a press release the Ballard and University District stores will close Oct. 21.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” the press release from Target reads.

The Ballard store is at 1448 NW Market St, Ste 100. The University District store is at 4535 University Way NE.

Related news: Is new flagship Ben Bridge store in downtown Seattle a sign of resurgence?

Target will also close seven other U.S. stores, including three in Portland and two in San Francisco and New York. All eligible employees will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other Target locations, the company said.

“We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all,” Target’s statement says.

Before making the decision, Target said it invested heavily in strategies to prevent and stop theft such as adding more security team workers, using third-party guard services and installing theft deterrent tools like locking up merchandise. It also has trained store leaders and security team members to protect themselves and de-escalate potential safety issues.

But it noted that despite those efforts, it continued to face “fundamental challenges” to operate the stores safely — and the business performance at these locations was unsustainable.

“It’s easy to look at retail store closures as single incidents, but the reality is this is yet another domino falling as progress to address safety issues – for employees, customers and the general public – is slow,” Washington Retail Association President/CEO Renée Sunde said in a prepared statement.

“The announcement today illustrates that more urgency is needed at the state and local level to reach commonsense solutions and craft laws that fulfill the promise of the government’s top priority to keep the public safe,” Sunde added.

Both the Ballard and University District stores have been plagued by an increase in crime.

“As we work on policies to make our communities safer, we will continue our collaboration with local officials like City Attorney Ann Davison, King County Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Manion, law enforcement, our retail members and many others who have shown a willingness to find a middle ground on policies that put public safety first,” Sunde said in the press release.

She believes that the passing of the drug possession law by the Seattle City Council should help.

Related news: Seattle City Council passes drug ordinance that aligns with state

“Our hope is that the pace of action by state leaders and local government officials will increase to ensure we can maintain and grow the economic footprint of businesses across the city and state.”

Three Seattle stores — located in Northgate, West Seattle and downtown near Pike Place Market — will remain open. Target reported 22 stores remain open in “the Seattle market,” employing nearly 4,000 team members. Stores in 29 other cities across the state of Washington are expected to stay open as well.

While the store closings account for just a fraction of the 1,900 stores Target operates nationwide, the move is significant. It underscores the big challenges that retailers like Target face in reducing theft in stores as they wrestle with protecting their workers and customers while trying to serve the community, particularly low-income and minority groups who rely on the local stores for necessities.

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said. “Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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