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Target Corporation, one the largest retailers in the nation, with a history stretching back 120 years, has just told investors that its stores are being looted on an unprecedented scale.

The well-known discount retail giant told journalists during the firm’s third-quarter earnings report that theft, known in the industry as ‘shrinkage’ or ‘shrink,’ has slashed the retail chain’s profit margins by about $400 million in the first nine months of 2022 compared year-over-year to 2021 and that they project losing up to $600 million by the year’s end according to Yahoo!Finance.

“At Target, year-to-date, incremental shortage has already reduced our gross margin by more than $400 million vs. last year,” Target CFO Michael Fiddelke told investors, “and we expect it will reduce our gross margin by more than $600 million for the full year.”

Fiddelke went on to explain that there are “a handful of things that can drive shrink in our business and theft is certainly a key driver. We know we’re not alone across retail in seeing a trend that I think has gotten increasingly worse over the last 12 to 18 months. So we’re taking the right actions in our stores to help curb that trend where we can, but that becomes an increasing headwind on our business and we know the business of others.”

“Along with other retailers, we’ve seen a significant increase in theft and organized retail crime across our business,” Target CEO Brian Cornell added on the call as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A Target spokesman told WSJ Wednesday that incidents of retail crime were up 50 percent over 2021 levels. While he didn’t explicitly provide a number of incidents that occurred in 21′ or 22′, Target executives indicated that they expect retail theft and inventory shrink to worsen across the 1,948 Target locations in the U.S.

Following the announcement, Target stock shares took a 12 percent hit as quarterly profits failed to meet analyst expectations. The retailer has since lowered forecasts going into the business-critical fourth quarter, noting that shoppers have slowed down their spending in the last few weeks as they encounter higher inflation and an uncertain economic outlook.

Following the second and third quarters of 2022 Target reported, “This year’s gross margin rate reflected higher markdown rates, driven primarily by inventory impairments and actions taken to address lower-than-expected sales in discretionary categories, as well as higher merchandise, inventory shrink, and freight costs.”

Overall, according to WSJ, retailers in the U.S. absorbed losses of approximately $94.5 billion in 2021 due to organized theft and other crime-related factors citing a report from the National Retail Federation in September. The outlet reported that other retailers including, Ulta Beauty, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls reported they have earmarked funds specifically to investigate and combat theft. Home Depot and Best Buy also increased their internal security after a flurry of organized looting incidents that plagued their stores in the winter of 2021.

WSJ also reported that Amazon is one of the largest outlets for criminals offloading their stolen goods. according to law enforcement officials.