Walmart said on Wednesday that it would ban the practice, which took place in a dozen of its 4,700 stores and became the subject of a federal discrimination lawsuit filed in 2018, which was dropped a year later.
Retailers are rethinking their merchandising strategies following protests across the country against police brutality and racial inequality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While trying to defeat discriminatory policies, they also realize that they cannot afford to turn off multicultural customers who are heavy consumers of beauty products. CVS noted that it has increased its field of textured hair and cosmetics by 35% in the past year, and many of these brands are businesses owned by blacks.
Many stores have long had a policy of locking in items with high theft rates, such as batteries and razor blades. But experts say that locking out items for black customers, especially in black neighborhoods, is widespread and that retailers must remove it. They also say that stores lock up more items in black neighborhoods compared to white neighborhoods.
“If you lock up products for black people and you don’t lock up for products for white customers, it’s discriminatory,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “It is out of step with the times we live in now. ”
Walmart said in a statement that, like other retailers, locked cases have been put in place to deter shoplifters from certain products such as electronics, automobiles, cosmetics and other products personal care. But he said, “We are sensitive to the problem and understand the concerns raised by our customers and community members and have made the decision to stop placing multicultural hair and beauty products in locked cases. ”
In 2018, Essie Grundy sued Walmart for locking up beauty items for black women. According to the complaint, Grundy made several trips to the Walmart store in Perris, California, and had to ask a salesperson to unlock the storefront for black hair and body products. Meanwhile, according to the costume, beauty items for non-blacks were not locked up. Grundy said she felt “shame and humiliation” when people looked at her as if she were a criminal waiting for help.
This experience is all too familiar for Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, a black leader in digital marketing and social media in the retail and beauty industry. She says she’s bothered by long waits for vendors to unlock beauty and personal care products not only at local grocer Albertsons, but at other stores nearby View Park in Los Angeles, known as name of “Black Beverly Hills”. She says she doesn’t see these products locked up in Beverly Hills.
Bracken-Ferguson said she had stopped going to stores where it is still used.
“It sends a chase message as soon as you enter, disrespectful and generalized in a way that is psychologically disturbing because it is based on the race of your skin or your place of residence and nothing more,” she writes.