The ongoing retail closures in San Francisco continued on Wednesday with CVS announcing another closure, and Nordstrom officially ending their time at the Westfield Mall.
For several years, large chains and small businesses alike have been leaving San Francisco, either closing permanently or relocating operations outside the city. In the case of small businesses, some have left the area entirely, moving out of state or to other areas in the state. For the last few years, for example, Walgreens has closed more and more stores in the city because of the massive amount of crime within its stores. Higher-end stores have also cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving. And Since the beginning of the year, all Amazon Go stores, Anthropologie, several high-end Union Square stores, several department stores, and the flagship Whole Foods store have all announced that their doors will be closing, along with multiple non-chain stores throughout the city.
While the closures have been across the retail spectrum, pharmacies and food stores have been noticeably harder hit by a mix of crime, high rents, fewer shoppers visiting San Francisco locations, and the lack of security. Walgreens has closed at least 11 stores in the city since 2020, and CVS closed six since last year before Wednesday’s.
In addition to the closures, chains like Walgreens in San Francisco have made national news because of the high amount of theft from the stores and security guards even killing shoplifters when their own lives were threatened. The few new stores that have opened during this time, such as a Downtown IKEA, have advanced security measures rarely seen at other locations nationwide.
On Wednesday, the number of retail stores shrunk even further in the city. Nordstrom, already set for closing, began their final sale, with it expecting to last until the end of the month. And in Downtown San Francisco, a new CVS closure was announced for the 601 Mission Street location, leaving San Francisco with only 11 CVS locations left and only 2 in the main city center.
Another CVS closes in SF
“CVS made the decision to close the store based on factors like local market dynamics and population shifts,” a CVS spokesperson said on Wednesday. “Maintaining access to pharmacy services in the communities we serve is an important factor we consider when making store closure decisions. Considerations like store density and proximity of other CVS locations also played a role in the move. Our teams will continue to provide the community with outstanding service at these locations.”
However, security experts told the Globe on Wednesday that the new closure was only further proof of San Francisco’s overall degradation.
“Big store chains just don’t pull out of a major city like this,” 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. “San Francisco has lost some population, but not enough to solely justify all these locations going away. Proximity is also a non-factor since there are so few left. You run out of excuses, and no store wants to say that they’re moving because crime has gotten worse and that they’re being squeezed out of the city. Corporations have a certain way of saying things, and the CVS response was it to a T.”
“Having done consults in the area, they are generally smaller stores there, so maybe they could say that the size wasn’t right. But the big thing is crime, homelessness, and drug use. A lot of stores have asked for more and more elaborate security measures and the police seem to go around there more and more on calls. That should tell you the unsaid reason there.”
“Closures have slowed down for a lot of stores, but big announcements usually come in the fall and winter, so this could be the starting gun. Or, perhaps, some chains are just running out of locations in San Francisco now. Either way, it is not good for the city.”
More store closure announcements in San Francisco are expected to be made in late 2023 and early 2024.