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Home Depot Blames Opioid Crisis For Recent Rise In Store Thefts

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Home Depot has blamed the nation's opioid crisis for the recent surge in theft at its stores, reports said.

The home improvement retailer made the claim at an analyst and investor conference on Wednesday saying it expects the theft, which retailers call shrink, to narrow its operating margin for the next year.

"This is happening everywhere in retail. We think this ties to the opioid crisis, but we're not positive about that," Chief Executive Officer Craig Menear was quoted as saying.

Home Depot's Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail said the company expects its fiscal 2020 operating margin to fall to about 14 percent, with the most significant impact coming from the retail shrink, or theft.

In June, a survey released by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida had said theft, fraud and losses from other retail "shrink" rose 8.1 percent to $50.6 billion in 2018 from $46.8 billion in the prior year.

According to the report, shrink averaged 1.38 percent of sales during 2018, up slightly from 1.33 percent in 2017, but has held steady around 1.4 percent over the past few years. With the percentage largely unchanged, the increase in the dollar amount is due primarily to growth in retail sales.

However, the survey did not note a correlation between opioid use and organized crime.

The opioid crisis in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid addiction claimed about 400,000 lives in the U.S. from 1999 to 2017, of which around 47,600 overdose deaths were in 2017 alone.

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