Retail giant Target announced on Tuesday that three Bay Area locations would be closing because of rampant theft from stores, continuing the growing retail closure trend in San Francisco and surrounding cities.
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, food stores and other places with small but pricey merchandise 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 seven since last year, including the most recent shutting down less than a week ago. Places like Target have also been heavily rumored to close in the past.
On Tuesday, Target announced that nine locations in four markets would be closing, with New York, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle specifically named. The Bay Area itself had three of the nine closures, with the San Francisco (Folsolm Street), Oakland, and Pittsburg stores all set to close by October 21st.
In a statement on Tuesday, Target said that the reasons behind the closures were theft, organized retail crime, and the safety of shoppers being threatened as a result.
“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” said the retailer. “We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all.”
Target had previously hinted at the closure of the stores, with CEO Brian Cornell saying in May that retail theft was greatly affecting profitability, and that while stores were very important locally, some could go if thefts continued.
More Bay Area retail closures
“We do not want to close stores,” added Cornell in May. “We know how important our stores are. They create local jobs, they generate taxes, they’re very important for those local shoppers, and they play a critical role in communities across the country. We’ll continue to do everything in our power to keep our doors open. At the same time, we’ll be closely monitoring the safety of our team and guests as well as the financial impact to our business as we determine the right path forward at Target.”
Security experts told the Globe Tuesday that the closure of the Target stores were not surprising given the amount of thefts, but would greatly hurt the areas as a result because of people needing to travel farther to reach other Target locations or similar stores.
“Whenever a store has to put razor blades and laundry detergent behind glass, you know that crime there is very high,” 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. “Cordoning off an aisle or two, that’s normal now in even low crime areas, so that isn’t as worrisome. But what is are those security glass cases. Some places have most of their stock behind them now because of how bad it got. And for those Targets it just became too much. So it wasn’t surprising that they finally decided to close them. They had done so much, but people kept stealing. And since security guards are getting stripped of more of their power, employees are being allowed less and less to confront shoplifters, and the police cannot respond quickly, people knew they had a good chance to go in, grab, and stroll out.”
“Most people going in are just hard-working people just getting food or whatever else they need and paying like normal customers. So these closures will be rough on them. We have to remember law-abiding citizens who are just living their lives and are hurt by this. Blame is fully on the thieves themselves and the city for allowing the situation to escalate this much. This isn’t normal, and as we’ve seen in the past few years, more people in the city have been ousting people in charge they don’t like and are pushing the city for harsher punishments and more police. I don’t know when [Mayor London] Breed and the Supervisors will finally bring the hammer down, but it has to be soon, or else San Francisco could lose even more big stores and hurt a lot more people.”
More store closures are expected to be announced soon.