The business profile of Portland is going down and the latest setback to Oregon’s metro city came with the announcement by Walmart that it’s closing down its remaining stores in Portland.
Reasons for Walmart’s Departure
The Washington Examiner reported earlier this month that Walmart is closing its last two remaining stores in Portland, both set to close on March 24, 2023. The story cited Walmart attributing their decision of closure in Portland to multiple reasons:
“There is no single cause for why a store closes and our decision is based on several factors, including historic and current financial performance, and is in line with the threshold that guides our strategy to close underperforming locations.”
However, media speculates that Walmart, one of the largest retailers, is leaving the city due to high crime rate, particularity theft and vandalism at grocery stores. One resident, Darrel Hanson, of Southeast Portland told Fox 12 that his part of the city has gone “down and down” over the last decade. He said:
“More crime, garbage, homeless people, drugs and nobody wants to help.”
Another business owner Jason Leivian left his store on Northwest 4th Avenue to move to another part of the city because most people have abandoned the downtown area, particularly since the pandemic of 2020.
News Radio 610 KONA also pointed to retail theft as a major fear for businesses in Portland, and that it remains so for many businesses in the city, not just Walmart. By the statistics cited in the story, an average of 2000 incidents of retail theft have been recorded per month in Portland over the past year (January 2022 to January 2023).
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, denies that Walmart’s decision to leave Portland is based on the city’s rising incidence of crime.
“As they indicated to their comments to media, Walmart’s decision to close the two stores was based on poor overall business performance.”
People Leaving Portland
Last year, Willamette Week reported that Portland’s population shrank for the first time in a decade. The story attributed this decline to “deep public dissatisfaction with the direction of the city” that is renewing questions about “whether Portlanders are fleeing civic disorder.”