Pokémon card sales at major US retailer halted over security fears

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US retail giant Target is suspending in-store sales of Pokémon and sports trading cards amid safety concerns as customers vie for the collectibles.

Target, which has more than 1,900 outlets in the US, made the decision after a man drew a gun in a fight over cards outside a store in Wisconsin.

"The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority," the company said in a statement to US media.

Sales of trading cards have rocketed amid the pandemic.

The suspension of in-store sales is temporary, the company said, adding that online sales are not affected.

Walmart, a top competitor to Target, says they have also seen increasing demand, but do not currently have plans to block sales.

A fight broke out in a car park outside a Target in Brookfield, Wisconsin, on 7 May, after four men allegedly assaulted another man over sports trading cards, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The victim, who had a licence to carry a concealed gun, ended the fight by drawing his weapon, police say.

No shots were fired, and the four men ranging in age from 23 to 35 fled and were later arrested.

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image captionPokémon cards

The store, a nearby grocery store and a children's healthcare clinic briefly went on lockdown.

Before announcing the ban, Target had previously said they were limiting trading card sales to one package per day per customer.

Sales of trading cards, and especially Pokémon with its famous catchphrase, "gotta catch 'em all", have surged in value in recent years.

Videos online of social media influencers opening packages of cards in the hopes of find a rare one have increased interest, experts say.

In March, a card for a type of Pokémon known as a Charizard sold for nearly $400,000 (£285,000).

Auction site eBay says sales of Pokémon cards in the US shot up 574% between 2019-20. Trade in football cards grew by 1,586%.

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