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The theft of a pair of socks can obliterate the return on the next 0 in sales.
So the company, experts said, relies heavily on police to protect its bottom line, starting with shoplifting.
Some Publix stores have guards in brown uniforms near the door.
Private security guards perform “all of those policing functions to both prevent the low-level disorder and also to respond to it, only calling police if in their judgment it might turn violent,” said Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.
Spokesman Aaron Mullins said the company’s specialists do “a really great job of identifying people who are breaking the law” and they “partner very closely with local law enforcement.” “Any type of criminal activity that might be happening in our stores we take very seriously,” he said, “and we have processes in place to address that aggressively.” Walmart’s approach to handling problems is more “tough love” than “let’s talk it out.” The style descends from founder Sam Walton, a scrappy, no-nonsense businessman who famously wrote in his autobiography that theft is “one of the biggest enemies of profitability.” His company became the world’s largest retailer, far exceeding other big box chains.
Everything about Walmart is enormous: about 11,000 stores in 28 countries, 140 million weekly customers in the United States alone, billion in annual profits.
But Walmart squeezes those profits from razor thin margins.
“So there’s just a lot of stress.” That’s all the more reason for a for-profit company like Walmart to adequately secure its stores, experts said. Research shows that they effectively deter misbehaving customers and can cut down on theft.
Malls, for instance, often employ guards to manage everyday nuisances like noise complaints and loitering teens.