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In December, big retailers decorate stores to the nines to lure holiday shoppers through the doors. This year, however, many are sending a different message. Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, CVS and other chains are closing stores across the U.S., especially in urban areas. The companies blame shoplifting and weak law enforcement, but urban policy scholar Nicholas Dagen Bloom argues that big-box retailers were always a poor fit for downtowns. In his view, smaller stores typically return more revenues to their communities, have more realistic growth targets and offer personal service that produces a safer and better shopping experience.

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Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Cities Editor

Merchandise is locked in cases to guard against theft in a Target store in New York City on Sept. 23, 2023. Deb Cohn-Orbach/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Big-box retail chains were never a solution for America’s downtowns − and now they’re fleeing back to suburbia

Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Hunter College

Shoplifting has been hyped as a driver of chain-store closures, but did these companies ever really understand urban environments in the first place?

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