Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Breaking News / Kotz
The Wal-Mart Theft Index: How to Tell if We’re in a Depression
By Pete Kotz
on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 5:29 AM
While cable pundits and newspaper eggheads debate whether we’re technically in a recession, there’s an easier way to decide the issue. It’s called the Wal-Mart Theft Index.
The nation’s largest employer and retailer is a bellwether for many things, but theft may be its greatest contribution. Due to the sheer size of its stores – coupled with chronic short-staffing and no security staff – Wal-Mart tends to be ground-zero for shoplifting.
The evidence comes from the discarded packaging found in the deeper reaches of the stores. In normal times, shoplifters will grab CDs, DVDs, and smaller electronics items, strip them of packaging in the quieter aisles, then walk through security scanners undetected.
But over the past few months, workers are discovering that even thieves are having a hard go of it during this wretched economy. “Now I'm finding lots of things like food, diapers, tampons, over-the-counter pharmacy stuff like kid's cough medicine and insulin,” says one employee. “They still steal all of the other stuff, but I'm seeing more necessity items these days. Today I found that someone stole a queen-sized electric blanket and a package of condoms. Now I have the peace of mind knowing that our customers won't get cold while they're having protected sex.”
Which begs the question: Should Congress consider a stimulus package for shoplifters?