Chicago proposes municipally run grocery store as vendors flee rampant crime

Daily Caller News Foundation

Democratic Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced Wednesday that he has proposed a city-owned grocery store after several supermarket chains fled the South Side neighborhood in the wake of rampant crime, The National Desk reported.

Johnson announced a plan to create a “feasibility study” for a municipally owned grocery store in response to the “food deserts” caused by stores’ departures, and claimed that the “historic” and “purposeful disinvestment” had “exacerbated” the “inequities” in the area, a press release from the mayor’s office said. Chicago has lost at least six grocery stores in its crime-ridden South and West Side neighborhoods since 2021, according to The National Desk.

“All Chicagoans deserve to live near convenient, affordable, healthy grocery options. We know access to grocery stores is already a challenge for many residents, especially on the South and West sides,” Johnson said in the press release. “My administration is committed to advancing innovative, whole-of-government approaches to address these inequities.”

Walmart abruptly closed four of its Chicago stores in April because retail theft and crime in the city had caused the stores to lose tens of millions of dollars, a press release from the company claimed. At least 15,806 thefts occurred in the four Chicago neighborhoods that Walmart left, while only 7% of those thefts resulted in an arrest, according to Wirepoints, a local nonprofit that tracks crime in Illinois.

“The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago – these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years,” Walmart wrote in the press release.

A municipally owned grocery store would withstand any retail thefts or “economic challenges” in the city, Ameya Pawar, the senior analyst for the Economic Security Project, said, according to The National Desk. Pawar also claimed that a city-run grocery store would operate similar to regular grocery stores but would serve the public like a “library” or a “post office.”

Johnson has faced criticism as Chicago’s crime steadily worsened under the first few months of his administration, compared to his predecessor Lori Lightfoot’s first few months in office. The mayor has blamed car companies for the rampant theft in the city and promoted Illinois’ zero-bail policy.

Citywide theft in Chicago has gone up 98% since 2020, according to police data.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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