Texas And Oregon Politicians Have A Back And Forth Intense Discussion Over Twitter About Why Walmart Is Shutting Down Stores

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, hit back against an accusation from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that Walmart is leaving the city because of crime. On Sunday, Abbott, a Republican, tweeted a link to an article about Walmart’s decision to close its last two stores in Portland. The closures, which Walmart first disclosed in late February, will affect 580 workers who are currently employed at the stores.

The story noted that Walmart considered various factors in making the closures, including the stores’ financial performance. An accompanying video segment quoted a shopper complaining about shoplifting at the store. Abbott commented on the article, saying, “This is what happens when cities refuse to enforce the rule of law.” Mayor Ted Wheeler replied on Monday, referring to “dozens of Walmart stores that have closed in Texas in recent years.”

“The retail industry is changing and retail theft is a national issue,” he added. Wheeler, a former Republican, now affiliates with the Democratic Party.

Walmart has routinely shuttered stores over the last several years, including in 2016, when it closed 28 stores in Texas because they were too close to other Walmart locations. This year, the retailer is closing more stores, from Portland to Washington, DC.

Theft at retailers has received more attention as trade groups have reported an increase in crime in the last few years. They say that the problem isn’t individual shoplifters but organized retail crime that involves multiple thieves taking large quantities of goods from stores. Walgreens, for instance, has had to deal with groups of people taking beauty products from its stores, CFO James Kehoe said on an investor call in January 2022.

But one year later, Kehoe told investors that theft rates had dropped in 2022. He added that the company “cried too much” about organized retail crime initially.

One store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is set to close this week. A Walmart spokesperson told Insider: “There is no single cause for why a store closes.” But shoppers at the store said that shoplifting had become a problem at the location in recent years. The spokesperson did not comment specifically on whether crime at the store factored into the closure decision.