Portland’s Anti-Big Business Stance Shuts Walmart Down

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Retail industry analysts say that rising concerns over theft may have contributed to Walmart’s decision last month to shutter its Portland stores. But it’s likely not the driving factor.

Theft and other crime, the Walmart watchers said, is surely a concern for the chain. But the impact is rarely enough to close an otherwise successful store without warning, and especially without appeals to local officials for assistance.

“The decision to close down a store is typically linked to sales,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail division at GlobalData, a market analysis firm, “which often has nothing to do with thefts or shoplifting.”

After Walmart announced the pending closure of its two Portland locations, the role of retail theft in its departure took center stage as politicians and commentators sparred over the cause on Twitter. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took aim at Portland last weekend, blaming the closures on “what happens when cities refuse to enforce the rule of law.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, however, disputed Abbott’s claim and pointed to the store closures in Texas in recent years, adding, “The retail industry is changing and retail theft is a national issue.”

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