Walmart Inc. will stop keeping personal care products designed for people of colour in locked display cases, the retailer said, after the practice drew flak online with many saying it suggested customers for these products cannot be trusted.
“We have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products in locked cases,” the company said in an email statement on Wednesday.
Walmart said the practice was in place in about a dozen of its 4,700 stores in the United States and the cases were in place to deter shoplifters from products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products.
The retailer’s Canadian arm says the policy was not in place in any Canadian stores. “We don’t lock up any hair care products at Walmart Canada,” the company told CBC News in an emailed statement.
The criticism of the retailer comes at a time when the United States has been rocked by protests against racial discrimination, following the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, on May 25.
The change in Walmart’s policy was prompted by a June 8 CBS News report that a Walmart customer had complained of the practice being discriminatory against people of colour, while visiting a store in the city of Denver.
“The multi-cultural hair care is all locked behind the glass. That’s so ridiculous,” Lauren Epps, a black woman was quoted as saying in the report.
“This Walmart is in the heart of Montbello. There are black and brown people all over the place. The message is clear: We don’t trust you.”<br><br>A customer says the retailer is discriminating against people of color, locking only multicultural products behind glass. <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBSDenver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBSDenver</a> @ 5 <a href=”https://t.co/9bgI4X0pCb”>pic.twitter.com/9bgI4X0pCb</a>
Many companies have issued statements in support of the black community, in addition to setting up funds to fight systematic racism.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has said the company, along with Walmart Foundation, will commit $100 million to create a new centre on racial equity.