Ron DeSantis Slams Target and Walmarts for Their Soft ‘Woke’ Approach to Retail Theft

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 20, 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is probably one of the most well-known politicians in the country. He has made quite the name for himself with his incredibly strong and often controversial opinions and policies. 

Most recently, the governor has slammed businesses such as Target, Walmart, and CVS for locking up many of their products. DeSantis says corporations like these are becoming far too “woke,” which, in his opinion, is quite the insult.

Locked Cupboards Are Becoming More Common in Retail Stores

Everyone has seen locked cupboards at various retailers. Sometimes, they contain expensive products like electronics, while other times, they keep items that require identification, such as cigarettes or liquor, safe from underage shoppers. 

Shelves at a CVS pharmacy with some products locked behind glass doors

Source: Reddit

However, more recently, some stores have taken to locking up inexpensive and completely innocent products like shampoo, lotion, and toothpaste. This means shoppers have to ask for employee assistance to gain access to more items than ever before. 


DeSantis Calls Out Companies for Locking Up Products

Governor DeSantis has quite a strong opinion about this practice. He posted on popular social media platform X, “Going into a drugstore to buy toothpaste shouldn’t be like Fort Knox. You shouldn’t need a clerk to unlock a case just to purchase basic items.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at an event regarding his policy on cracking down on retail theft

Source: @GovernorRonDeSantis/Facebook

It’s important to understand that DeSantis is arguing that average Americans shouldn’t have to ask to access toothpaste while shopping. He believes that it is the responsibility of state governments and the stores themselves to better enforce retail theft. 

Retail Theft Is at an All-Time High

There’s no doubt that retail theft has become a real problem throughout the country. Large retailers such as Target and Walmart have reported extreme financial losses due to theft over the past couple of years. 

A robber secretly puts products form a store in his jacket without paying

Source: iStock

In fact, Walmart estimates that they lost nearly $3 billion last year to theft, and Target wasn’t far behind with a $1 billion loss. Overall, American companies collectively forfeit a whopping $112 billion in just one year of profits thanks to petty and organized theft. 

These Crimes Are Not Harmless

Some people think that stealing from a giant corporation like Walmart or Target is harmless since they make more than enough money every year. But Target CEO Brian Cornell explained that a growing number of thefts are turning violent. 

CEO of Target Brian Cornell speaks during an interview

Source: @StanfordGraduateSchool/YouTube

Cornell said, “During the first five months of this year, our stores saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence.”

What Can Be Done to Stop the Increase in Retail Theft?

In order to combat this growing issue, many companies have decided to remove self-checkout counters and place many of their products, expensive or non, under lock and key. They hope that these practices will deter criminals and keep their employees and customers safe.

A CVS employee helps a customer understand her options

Source: CVS

Even though it may seem like an inconvenience, the leaders of these corporations simply don’t know what else to do. However, DeSantis argues that millions of Americans shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of a few criminals. Instead, these stores need to crack down on crime. 


Florida Is Increasing Punishments for Retail Theft

DeSantis said in a recent statement, “All these places, they’ve effectively enacted policies that legalize shoplifting. So people just go in, they take what they want, they leave.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs House Bill 549 to increase punishment for retail theft

Source: @GovRonDeSantis/X

And the governor isn’t just complaining, he’s actually taking action against this frustrating reality. On April 9, 2024, DeSantis passed House Bill 549, which significantly increased the punishment for retail theft across the Sunshine State. 


This Isn’t the First Time DeSantis Has Called Out Companies for Being Too “Woke”

In DeSantis’ opinion, the “woke” liberal mindset is far too passive; America is a country of action, justice, and tradition, and by letting criminals get away with their crimes because of lackadaisical policies, companies are doing Americans a disservice. 

Dylan Mulvany promoting Bud Light/Cans of Bud Light on a Shelf

Source: Reddit

But this isn’t the first time DeSantis has spoken out against companies that he believes are leaning too far to the left. For example, when Bud Light hired a famous transgender woman as one of its spokespeople, DeSantis said the brand had “radical social ideologies” and encouraged people to boycott the popular beer.


The Governor Has Always Famously Passed the Don’t Say Gay Bill

In addition to boycotting a brand for working with a transgender person, Governor DeSantis also passed a piece of legislation in 2022 that everyone calls the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

Students rallied at the Florida Capitol demanding that their Senators vote against the horrifying "Don't Say Gay" bill

Source: @MoveOn/X

DeSantis claimed the bill was meant to “prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner” and ensure children are not oversexualized in school. However, the vast majority of Americans saw it as a way to silence and shame children for their feelings and questions regarding their orientation or gender.


DeSantis’ Ongoing War With Disney

After the bill was passed, LGBTQ+ activists and millions of other Americans staged protests against it and even DeSantis himself. And famously, Disney’s then-chief executive Bob Chapek also spoke out against it.

Archway entrance to Walt Disney World in Florida

Source: iStock

DeSantis responded by saying, “If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy,” and went on to cause quite the public scene against the company which is Florida’s largest single-site employer and most popular attraction.


Most Americans Probably Don’t Feel as Strongly About the Locked Cabinets as DeSantis

There’s no doubt that Ron DeSantis leans extremely far to the right when it comes to both politics and ideology. Millions of Americans may agree with him on several or even all of his stances, including his opposition to locked cabinets in retail stores. 

Locked cabinets filled with hair and beauty products at a Walmart store

Source: Reddit

However, there are also tens of millions of Americans who don’t agree with any of DeSantis’ opinions. In fact, many people aren’t really that bothered by having to ask a sales associate to open the doors if it means keeping themselves, other shoppers, and the store employees safe from harm.


Will DeSantis’ New Law Reduce Retail Theft in Florida?

Whether these lockboxes will actually deter crime remains to be seen, but companies like Target and Walmart are extremely hopeful that they will make a difference. 

The exterior of a Target store with shoppers coming in and out

Source: iStock

Of course, DeSantis’ crack-down-on-crime approach is the same idea in theory with a far different tactic. But if his plan does work and retail theft in Florida decreases with the new punishments, other states may have to emulate his plan next year, whether they want to or not.