The women’s clothing store Anthropologie announced on Tuesday that it would be closing its Union Square location in San Francisco next month, becoming the latest major retailer to vacate the city this year.
Since the beginning of the decade, a mix of crime, high rents, fewer shoppers visiting San Francisco locations, and the lack of security in many areas have led to countless stores either leaving or closing in many prominent areas of the city, including Union Square. Stores such as the Gap’s flagship store left Union Square all the way back in August 2020, with others such as the H&M West Coast flagship store, Uniqlo, Nordstrom, and DSW leaving the next year. Not helping matters were huge crime waves in and around Union Square targeting luxury retailers in late 2021 and late 2022. As a result, even more bolted. And that’s not even getting into what was happening citywide with major chains such as Walgreens leaving en masse and vacancy rates now climbing above 30%.
So far this year, more retailers have left Union Square including the RealReal and CB2. So much open space has opened up in the area that the city has targeted Union Square as one of its focus areas for its office to housing conversion ordinance. Crime and public safety concerns have also not slowed down, as other nearby “flagship” stores, such as the one-year-old Whole Foods location, have shut down. The closing of Anthropologie is only the latest in the long line of retailers leaving.
Anthropologie was one of the longest-running retail stores in Union Square, having been there for over two decades, surviving multiple downturns including the dot-com crash, the Great Recession, and even the recent COVID-19 shutdowns. While Anthropologie and it’ parent company, URBN, have not commented on the Union Square closing, the crime, cost, lower foot traffic, and public safety factors all likely played a part in the decision to leave.
“If a store is leaving Union Square, it’s because of at least two of those reasons,” Richard Wallace, who helped manage a high-end store in the Square until earlier this year, told the Globe Tuesday. “Everyone is very concerned about robberies, but also what, if anything, the police will do about them. They’re worried about rent going up. They’re worried that they aren’t seeing as many customers as before since less people are working around there. They’re worried that more smashed store fonts will only keep people away again. Stores that leave give at least some of these as reasons.”
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