One ominous reason why Wal-Mart is bringing back greeters

Wal-Mart employeeJ.D. Pooley / Getty ImagesWal-Mart is bringing back greeters.

Wal-Mart is bringing back employees known as “greeters” to its store entrances.

The company is also adding a fleet of “asset protection customer specialists,” who will check receipts as shoppers leave, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Wal-Mart is testing the added door presence in 300 of its 4,500 US stores, according to the report.

This could indicate that Wal-Mart’s theft problems are getting worse.

The company likely loses about 1% of its US revenue — or roughly $US3 billion dollars every year — to stealing by customers and employees, Reuters reports.

Wal-Mart US chief Greg Foran recently said that the company is making a renewed push to reduce theft.

“One per cent of $US300 billion is quite a lot of money. If you can save 10 basis points [or 0.1%] of it — boy I’ll take it every day of the week and put it into lower prices for customers,” Foran told Reuters.

The losses could come from stealing or mistakes in recording inventory, he said.

In an earnings call last month, Foran blamed a decline in gross profit margins on theft, which the company calls “shrink,” Reuters notes. He said half of the theft occurred in the food departments.

“In the first quarter, gross profit rate declined 13 basis points, driven primarily by a headwind from shrink, half of which was in food,” he said, according to a transcript. “We are addressing this increase immediately, bringing a high level of focus and visibility to this concern by adding it as a key urgent agenda item this year.”

The additional employees at Wal-Mart’s store entrances are also meant to improve customer service.

The company removed greeters from entrances three years ago so they could help direct shoppers and restock shelves, according to the Journal.

Wal-Mart hopes the increased presence at store entrances will make the stores friendlier.

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