Dispatches from the Real Economy: They're Locking Up the Deodorant

The drugstore has locked down the deodorant.


Addendum: You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by what gets locked up to prevent shoplifting. Here in New York, supermarkets in poorer neighborhoods tend to put baby formula behind glass. Swankier places will keep it behind the counter at the pharmacy, or sometimes even out on the shelf.

Yuppie liquor stores keep all but their most expensive bottles out on the shelves to encourage customers to facilitate impulse buys. By contrast, liquor stores in rougher neighborhoods may keep the bulk of their inventory behind plexiglass. Liquor stores are an extreme example because they've got to worry about robberies as well as shoplifting, but it's the same merchandising principle at work. It's a tradeoff between accessibility and security.

Small, expensive items like razor blades and batteries are likely to be secured no matter where you go. But it's a bad sign that deodorant shoplifting has become enough of a problem to justify the expense of the giant plastic case and extra hassle for the employees.

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