Major drugstore retailers CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart are stating they will no longer lock up beauty and hair care items made for Black women and POC. The companies claim to have taken these measures in the past for security purposes, yet there are numerous accounts of shoppers expressing their concerns around discrimination. Though many chains have a protocol of securing items like electronics and luxury items due to high theft rates, they recognize shampoos, conditioners and serums should not be bolted up.
According to Nielsen in 2018, “The Black hair care industry raked in an estimated $2.51 billion and bought brands according to their texture needs.” It should be noted that Nielsen also mentioned, “within the makeup, hair care, and personal hygiene, sales have grown exponentially in Hispanic households versus non-Hispanics (“Hispanic Consumers are the Foundation,” 2015).” The numbers do not lie. Black women, Afro-Latinas and Latinas make up a huge number of sales in the beauty category which brings us to this puzzling situation.
Last week, Walmart released a statement saying, “We‘re sensitive to the issue and understand the concerns raised by our customers and members of the community and have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products - a practice in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide - in locked cases.“
One shopper who was a new resident at a local store in Las Vegas, Monique Buckner took to social media in March to express her frustration. “I just moved to Vegas from the Bronx and while shopping I couldn’t help but notice that I had to call someone over to unlock my Black-owned beauty products,” said Monique. “This practice is a sign of disrespect and discrimination,” expressed the Black woman. She says she gets flustered by long waits for the sales associates to release the hair and personal care products, while the items that cater to the general market are out in the open for grabs.
It’s more than just the police. pic.twitter.com/5SUJF8xBtm— Jesús A. Rodríguez (@jesusrodriguezb) June 8, 2020
Following Walmart’s changes, Walgreens said, “We are currently ensuring multicultural hair care and beauty products are not stored behind locked cases at any of our stores,” in a statement emailed to The Associated Press late Thursday.
CVS acknowledges that it’s grown its textured hair and cosmetics area by 35% over the past year, and many of those brands are Black-owned businesses. Major retailers are now going back to the drawing board to rethink and re-strategize their marketing tactics within Black neighborhoods and beyond globally.