Let's do more for Baltimore's retailers

It’s about time we recognize the plight of the retail worker and of retailers in general (“If Trump wants to save jobs, what about retail?” June 18). I live in downtown Baltimore, shop locally and understand the difficulties retailers face. One of the complications are the fees — fees for everything. Put out a bike rack and there’s a charge, install an awning and pay up, hang a sign and the city sends a bill. The list goes on. It’s about time Baltimore scales back on this.

Another problem is shoplifting. I’ve been in stores while it’s happening in plain sight. And don’t think self-checkouts will solve retailers’ distress. Several times while using such a device, I noticed the previous shopper scanned all their items but walked out before paying. The amount owed was still on the screen. Even if the manager catches the culprits, I’ve been told our police appear indifferent and prosecutors rarely press charges.

Finally, due to theft, many retailers hire security guards, an added expense passed along to the customer. One high end shop in Harbor East even finds it necessary to employ off-duty city police officers. However, all this adds up and it’s paid for by the purchaser. And then what does the shopper often do? They buy the same item online where it is usually cheaper, even with shipping included.

Our city must recognize retailers are struggling or disappearing altogether.There’s not one office supply store in all of downtown Baltimore after Office Depot closed! And when the shops disappear, jobs are lost. It’s time City Council takes a hard look at all the nuisance fees foisted on merchants and slashes them.

Rosalind Heid, Baltimore

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