The exodus of businesses leaving San Francisco expanded on Wednesday when, only a day following the announcement that shopping mall operator Westfield would revert ownership of the San Francisco Centre mall back to the bank, movie theater chain Cinemark said that its theater in the mall would close on Friday.
The departure of Cinemark marks the latest in retail companies abandoning the city. In the last few years, Walgreens has closed most stores in the city because of the massive amount of crime within its stores. Higher-end stores like Cotopaxi have also cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving. And just within the last three months, all Amazon Go stores, Anthropologie, several high-end Union square stores, and the flagship Whole Foods store all announced that their doors will be closing, along with multiple non-chain stores throughout the city. Last month, both Nordstrom and Saks Off 5th announced the closure of 3 main locations in the city, along with T-Mobile, Old Navy, and Williams-Sonoma also announcing closures. The last major departure, of Westfield leaving the mall, came only on Monday.
While Cinemark did not directly state that crime, the souring business climate in San Francisco, or Westfield’s departure were reasons for leaving, they noted in a statement on Wednesday that their leaving the mall was due to an expiring lease and not wanting to renew it due to “local business conditions.”
“Cinemark can confirm it has decided to permanently close the Century San Francisco Centre 9 and XD theater shortly before the conclusion of its lease term following a comprehensive review of local business conditions,” noted Cinemark in a statement.
The Globe contacted several theater workers on Wednesday, with a former theater employee telling the Globe that “Everyone is [expletive] pissed. The mall has been in decline for awhile now, but everyone thought they might have more time. Obviously it didn’t happen.”
With Nordstrom already set to leave the mall in a few months, the additional departure of Cinemark means that the mall will be only half occupied come September, depending on additional departures or additions. Experts noted that while a theater pulling out of a shopping mall isn’t unusual, it is a major sign that the property isn’t doing well, either in traffic or outside figures.
The latest closure in SF
“A movie theater acts as an undeclared anchor in a mall,” explained shopping mall planner and consultant Lydia Price-Davis to the Globe on Wednesday. “So losing one is big. Sometimes it is just a switchover in chains, but in Cinemark’s case in San Francisco, it is a total pull out. That is never a good sign for a mall. It’s like the leaves of a plant turning brown. It’s not dead yet, but something is seriously wrong.”
“Westfield leaving was probably a major factor there, as uncertainty in ownership is a big deciding factor, especially in larger chains that tend to operate with longer leases. Movie theaters are also still struggling post-COVID, so that was also probably a factor. For San Francisco specific things, just the way they said it in their statement, ‘review of local business conditions’, you can kind of read between the lines there. Just ask yourself what the local business conditions are in San Francisco right now and you have your answer.”
“It could be crime, taxes, a bad lease, a mix. The point is that the city lost another major business. A huge movie theater complex no less. Those are a big part of downtowns from small town main streets to New York and LA, even in today’s economy. And, despite problems in those cities, they are filled with movie theaters, and especially in the case of LA and Austin and other cities, they don’t even need to rely on a mall to make them successful. San Francisco managed to mess up what should have been a sure fire thing and a way to help the mall recover in the future.”
More announcements of businesses leaving San Francisco and Union Square are expected to continue throughout the second half of the year as more leases expire.
- Democrat and GOP Candidates Join 33rd Assembly District Race Following Asm. Devon Mathis Announcing his Last Term - December 2, 2023
- Legislative Analyst Reports: California Facing $58 Billion Budget Deficit Over Next Few Years - December 1, 2023
- San Francisco Office Vacancies Reach 35%, Breaking New Record - December 1, 2023