Nike is permanently closing its beloved Portland factory store — one year after it shuttered the location because of theft problems.
The retail giant — like so many other major brands — has taken a hit to its bottom line due to a dangerous surge in petty theft shoplifting and organized retail crime.
In fact, The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated in its annual security report that theft is costing the retail industry roughly $100 billion.
The Nike (NYSE: NKE) store, which opened in 1984 and quickly became a local institution, first closed in October 2022 with no official statement other than a message on the company’s website saying “Closed for the next 7 days” — but the store never reopened.
At the time, local news station KGW-TV reported thieves were “stealing armloads of Nike merchandise and walking out the front door with no fear of being stopped.” Here’s what prompted Nike’s decision.
Nike officials sent a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in February, confirming they’d closed the factory store because of “deteriorating public safety conditions and rapid escalation in retail theft.”
According to KGW-TV, the retailer allegedly requested off-duty police officers to provide security — which Nike would pay for — but the city could not spare any law enforcement officers.
The Soul District Business Association (SDBA) called Nike’s departure “a major economic blow.” SDBA director John Washington released a statement on Friday saying the news “landed like a lead balloon.”
“We had all been holding our breath since … the store quietly shuttered its doors due to internal and external theft and safety issues,” Washington said.
“But, like so many of us riding out the fallout of the pandemic and protests, we held out hope that Nike, city officials and community leaders would recalibrate and realign order. But it looks like it’s game over.”
Nike is by no means alone in experiencing an alarming uptick in retail crime — and rising concern over the issue is not isolated to Portland; it’s happening all over the country.
According to a recent report from the NRF, a majority of retailers surveyed between 2020 and 2022 reported annual increases in organized retail crime activity at their stores.
Many cities have seen retail store closures in recent months — with rampant crime being just one of the major factors in this.
In addition to theft concerns, retailers across the U.S. are also struggling to regain the same levels of footfall that they enjoyed pre-pandemic — partly due to rising costs and the sustained popularity of remote work, which has reduced footfall in downtown shopping areas.