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The Vine City Walmart Supercenter closed its doors after an alleged arson in December — the second fire that year. Another Atlanta-based Walmart on Howell Mill Road was also shut down following a fire.
Walmart has been struggling to combat rampant retail theft, CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC in 2022.
"Theft is an issue. It's higher than what it has historically been. We've got safety measures, security measures that we've put in place by store location," McMillon said. "I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that's normally how we approach it. If that's not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close."
In 2023, the retail corporation closed 22 stores across 15 states and Washington, D.C., the U.S. Sun reported. Four of the shuttered stores were located in Chicago.
Walmart stated that the Chicago-based locations were losing "tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years."
"We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the city. ... It was hoped that these investments would help improve our stores' performance. Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing," the company added.
In August, Walmart announced that it would reopen Atlanta's Vine City location as a Neighborhood Market, typically smaller than the retailer's Supercenter stores.
Mayor Andre Dickens argued that the community would become a food desert without the grocery retailer, Rough Draft Atlanta reported.
"Food insecurity is real across Georgia," Dickens stated. "And we don't want it to happen here in Atlanta. Eight years ago, about 54% of the people in the city lived within a half-mile of fresh food. Now we're up to 75%."
"This administration wants to make sure we have healthy communities, which means adding grocery stores," he added.
As part of the reopening, the Walmart location will be the first to include a police substation. According to Dickens, the station will not be staffed at all hours but will serve as a location for law enforcement to fill out paperwork, have meetings, and charge body cameras and cell phones.
Dickens believes the increased police presence will deter shoplifting and other crimes.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.