retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Six months after a Kroger-owned King Soopers store in Boulder, Colorado, suffered a mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 10 people, there was another mass shooting at a Kroger store in Collierville, Tennessee, that resulted in the death of one victim and at least a dozen injuries.

In the case of the Tennessee shooting, which occurred about 20 miles east of Memphis, the shooter also is dead, of what was reported to be suicide.

According to Fox News, "The Collierville Police Department originally received a call regarding an active shooter at Kroger at around 1:30 p.m., authorities said. Kroger employee Brignetta Dickerson said she was working the cash register Thursday when shots rang out … Police said 44 employees were in the store at the time of the shooting, though it was unclear how many customers were inside."

Collierville police Chief Dale Lane called it "the most horrific event" in the town's history.

Kroger is said to have "initiated counseling services for its employees. The store will remain closed during the police investigation."

The Commercial Appeal reports that "witnesses described a chaotic, terrifying scene where Kroger workers hid in freezers and hunkered down in locked offices. One Kroger employee was rescued from the roof."

The New York Times reports that "a spokeswoman for the town of Collierville, Jennifer Casey, said the gunman had been employed by a 'third-party vendor of Kroger' but she declined to share the name of the vendor."

No motive for the shootings has been established.

KC's View:

Beyond the fact that this is a tragedy that reflects a growing trend in America - according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 517 mass shootings in the US this year (a mass shooting is one in which a minimum of four people have been shot) - it seems to me that this is an area in which retailers are going to be increasingly  vulnerable to lawsuits brought by victims and their families.

At the National Grocers Association (NGA) show this week, there was an exhibitor who was actually selling armed violent intruder training programs.  The pitch is that if retailers and their employees are not sufficiently trained and adequate precautions not put in place to prevent attempted mass murders, then they could be found liable for damages.  There has to be policy, but there also have to be procedures, training, and repeated drills.

I'm not sure what all this means.  Metal detectors in stores?  More armed, trained security guards?  A total ban on customers carrying weapons into stores?  Personally, I am comfortable with all of this, but I know that these kinds of  rules would be politically and culturally untenable in places around the country where I do not live.

At a time when retailers already are dealing with supply chain issues, labor shortages, and debates about mask and vaccine mandates, the discussion about what to do about mass shootings in America's retailers has to be a high priority.