Walmart says it will no longer lock up African American beauty products, ending a practice viewed as racist. At some Walmart stores, hair and beauty products designed for black people were kept in glass cases accessible only with an employee key, in some cases across the aisle from shelves of other beauty products given no such protections, per the New York Times. Walmart was hit with a federal discrimination lawsuit in 2018 that was dropped the following year, with the California woman who brought it noting she in one instance had to ask an employee to open the case for her so she could buy a $0.48 comb.
Walmart previously said it locked up some items as a deterrence to shoplifters, but on Wednesday the retail giant announced African American beauty products would no longer fall in that category. "While the practice was only in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide, we have made the decision to discontinue placing these items in cases," a Walmart rep told KCNC. This followed a KCNC report that found multicultural hair products were kept in a locked case at a store in Denver, while more expensive items sat unprotected across the aisle. "The message is clear: We don't trust you," said a customer who waited for an employee to unlock the case. The customer ultimately left without making a purchase after the employee sought to place her chosen item in a portable locked case. (Read more Walmart stories.)