Pharmacy chain Walgreens announced another store closure in San Francisco for later this month, becoming only the latest chain store to close in San Francisco, and continuing on the trend of retail chains closing mass numbers of locations in San Francisco in the last few years.
The Walgreens on Kearny Street in the city has slated a closure date of February 22nd. This marks the store becoming the 6th Walgreens to close since October and the 11th to close in the city since the start of the pandemic in 2020. However, unlike the reasoning given for last years closures that blamed the crime wave in the city, Walgreens on Friday attributed the latest closing to multiple factors, including the shifting dynamics in the area.
“As we continue to execute our strategy to expand Walgreens role as a leader in the delivery of healthcare, we are focused on creating the right network of stores in the right locations to best meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman on Friday. “There are a number of factors that we take into consideration when opening and closing locations, including dynamics of the local market and changing buying habits of our customers. Pharmacy patients’ prescription files will automatically transfer to nearby stores.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic and economic troubles led to major retail shifts in 2020, crime and staff shortages caused by the Great Recession have been the more major reasons in the past year. In San Francisco, Union Square and Market Street, normally places for more high-end stores, have been particularly hit hard. Union Square saw multiple closures following the smash-and-grab crime wave that hit the area in December, while Market Street has been losing businesses left and right, with the most recent, sports retailer Decathlon, just closing last week.
Reduction of hours and temporary location closures are also on the upswing due to crime and staff shortages. Many chain stores in high crime areas have continued to cut evening hours to help deter crime, with staff shortages causing many chains, including Starbucks, to temporarily shutter locations for the rest of February.
Chain closures continue in SF
Many experts have warned that along with likely increased financial trouble in 2022, and city officials refusing to reverse policies that have led to many criminals going un-prosecuted in the city, San Francisco may be seeing more retail closures for at least the first half of 2022.
“It’s not looking pretty out there,” said Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in San Francisco and cities in the Peninsula, to the Globe on Friday. “Stores in malls, stores on Market Street, drug stores like CVS and Walgreens, Supermarkets, and so many more have closed. Nationwide, you have some places closing a bunch across the country at the same time, and so San Francisco is still hurt there. But , as that Walgreen’s said, they all look at many factors. Crime is definitely a major factor, with many stores actually naming it as the main reason for leaving.”
“There are a few places coming in, like that big IKEA that’s under construction now. But locals don’t go there to get prescriptions. They don’t go there to get groceries, or clothes, or other needs. And that is what San Francisco is losing.”
“The recall election in June and the November election have a real possibility to change some things to improve the city, like a more hard on crime approach. Economically there’s not much to do, but crime reduction will go a long way to helping places be convinced to stay. This Walgreen’s isn’t the last though.”
More temporary and permanent chain closures are expected to be announced in the coming months in San Francisco.
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