If you ever had any anxiety issues about going to the store and buying contraceptives, your problems have just become worse. If you were happy with the emergence of the self check-out line to decrease your fears, you are now SOL. On a recent trip to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Garner, I discovered Wal-Mart has now decided to place their condoms and pregnancy tests in security boxes. What makes matters worse is the fact that the people at the register don’t have anything to open them with. Apparently, CVS stores also have a similar policy.
One might think that the reason for the lock-up is to prevent young teenagers from purchasing the products. That is not the case. It has been addressed as a precaution to store theft. While condom theft is not an unusual issue, it rarely happens. In 2008, a Binghamton University basketball player was arrested and suspended from the team for shoplifting a box of Magnums and knocking a 66-year-old lady down in the process of the getaway. I don’t think that something like that happens everyday in Wal-Mart stores around the country. However, the stores have taken it upon themselves to make sure that it does not happen. I am not sure if it is a new company policy or a loss prevention decision that the store has taken upon itself. A funny thing about the CVS policy is that it is believed that they only lock up condoms in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods, as they seem to believe that is where the problem is most prevalent. Maybe, Wal-Mart has decided to do the same.
In a time when new STD/HIV/AIDS cases are steadily rising, this is not the time to place condoms under lock and key. In 2009, Wake County had 4,715 reported STD cases, 164 HIV cases, and 117 AIDS cases. That is a serious problem. Even though it’s personal responsibility, stores should be doing everything they can to make protection available. While it is true that people could just go to another store if they didn’t want to go through the hassle, people like convenience as well. Why would you waste gas to go to a store 5 miles away to get condoms, when there is one across the street? When you look at money lost from stolen condoms and money lost from condoms in security boxes, more money is probably lost from the latter. Condoms are not even that expensive. While I’m not condoning theft, one stolen box of condoms only costs the store like six dollars. However, think of all the sales you are going to lose from people not wanting to buy any at all. Some people are still going to have sex no matter whether they have condoms or not. Would you rather risk a couple of dollars or a country wide epidemic? Does it really have to be taken so far as to place security alarms on the products? If it is really that big of a problem, why not just take them and place them at the front of the store near the checkout where the rest of the convenience items are?
One question that that needs to be answered is why are people going so far as to steal condoms? What is embarrassing about having protected sex? I mean if anything, young people should be commended for being responsible enough to use them. One of the biggest reasons for the theft remains to be that people simply don’t want to have to deal with other people when buying personal items of this caliber. One possible solution could be a condom machine. Not the small condom dispensers that you find in random bathrooms; but full sized condom machines that store name brand condoms and other items. With the way that sex is promoted on our televisions, nobody can get mad when people are sucked in by it. This would allow people the privacy of being able to buy condoms, and would also prevent people from stealing condoms if it’s really that serious. It’s no different than having condoms sitting out on a shelf. People could buy the condoms and go on their way. The problem would be solved.
Until then, I guess Wal-Mart and CVS will continue to lock up their condoms in high-risk neighborhoods. The fact of the matter is that more harm is done than good when you lock up contraceptives.