Giant Food stores in D.C. area ban duffel bags to thwart theft

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Retail theft on the rise nationwide

Retail theft on the rise nationwide 07:17

While some major retailers are investing in AI to combat shoplifters, Giant Food supermarket chain is taking a low-tech approach: It is banning large bags in some stores.  

“Giant Food initiated a new policy at select stores that are experiencing high shrink to mitigate the unprecedented levels of product theft that have become unsustainable for our business,” the company said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. 

As of May 23, customers are prohibited from bringing suitcases, duffel bags or bags larger than 14″ x 14″ x 6″ into certain Giant stores. The chain will still permit customers to use their own reusable shopping bags. The policy is in place at Giant supermarkets in Washington, D.C., and select additional locations in the region, a company spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.

“We need to be able to run our stores safely and profitably, and we take these responsibilities seriously. The tactics we deploy are only one of the solutions to our problem,” the spokesperson said. 

Giant added that retail theft is so pervasive at its stores that it’s limiting product availability putting both associates and customers in harm’s way. 

Other large retailers have taken steps to combat shoplifting like putting popular, easy-to-steal items behind locked shelves. But such anti-theft measures can turn away paying customers who don’t want to wait for an attendant just to add a pack of peanuts to their shopping bags. 

Walmart, in its latest earnings call, said it was testing the use of AI to catch thieves. 

Megan Cerullo

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News 24/7 to discuss her reporting.

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