Walmart has been called out numerous times for locking up products marketed to Black shoppers (typically categorized at Walmart as "multicultural hair products") but it seems the retail colossus is now responding on a national level. Following a report from a local news station in Denver — and the recent, righteous pressure on brands to address the ways they perpetuate racial inequity and bias — Walmart is now making a change at all of the company's stores.
In Denver, CBS4's Tori Mason reported on a video posted by local Walmart shopper Lauren Epps , who said in her Instagram Story video, "White privilege also extends to hair-care products, apparently, in Walmart." In her video, Epps pans the aisle showing the display discrepancy and saying, "Over here, if I want Suave or Tresemmé or Pantene, it's out. But apparently, the multicultural hair care is all locked behind the glass ‘cause I bet you think we’re just gonna run up in here and steal it. That's so ridiculous."
After Mason's report, CBS4 received an initial response from Walmart stating that some products are "subject to additional security" and that the decision about which products those are is made on a store-by-store basis. However, on Wednesday, Walmart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez followed up with an additional statement sent to several media outlets, including The New York Times and USA Today.
"As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Like other retailers, the cases were put in place to deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products," the statement reads. It goes to announce a long-overdue change. "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.”
In 2018, a California woman sued Walmart for discrimination over locked-up products. (According to court documents viewed by The New York Times, the case was dropped in November 2019, and the complainant's attorney told the Times, "the matter was resolved"; Walmart didn't comment to the Times on the outcome of the lawsuit, and the complainant declined to comment to the Times on Walmart's policy change.) And in 2019, a social-media post by a Walmart shopper expressing outrage over the practice resulted in her Long Island store unlocking the multicultural beauty products. This appears to be the first time Walmart is addressing the concern nationwide.
Allure reached out to Walmart inquiring about when the change will take place at the stores in question but has not received a response yet. We will update this post as more information becomes available.
Now discover your new favorite Black-owned beauty brands:
Check out Skai Jackson's 10-minute makeup routine:
Originally Appeared on Allure