After being a staple in San Francisco for 35 years, Nordstrom closed its doors permanently on Sunday, citing increased crime as the main reason for the closure. According to ABC7 News, a Nordstrom employee at the San Francisco location mentioned that the rampant crime in the area played a significant role in the decision. The statistics back up these claims, with property crime, including shoplifting, rising by 57% in downtown San Francisco between 2019 and 2022, as reported by USA Today.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the retail industry, and Nordstrom faced decreased sales revenue as a result. Additionally, there have been noticeable changes in the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market, affecting customer foot traffic and the overall ability to operate successfully, as mentioned in the Los Angeles Times.
San Francisco currently faces a retail vacancy rate of 6% in the first quarter of 2023—a level not seen since 2006. Many shoppers have relocated and are now working remotely, resulting in decreased foot traffic in the area. Jamie Nordstrom, the chief stores officer for the company, acknowledges the impact of these changes, stating, "[T]he dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully."
The issues extend beyond just Nordstrom, as escalating crime has driven numerous customers away from the San Francisco Centre mall, where the retail store was located. According to The San Francisco Standard, a growing number of retailers and businesses have left the area due to the unsafe conditions, posing challenges for customers, retailers, and employees alike. This has hindered the economic recovery of the region, as stated by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the parent company for the mall, in a May statement.
The closure of Nordstrom is not an isolated incident, as San Francisco's Union Square area has witnessed the closure of over 39 stores, including well-known names like Whole Foods and Office Depot, since 2020, as reported by CNN.
Nordstrom's departure from San Francisco after 35 years sheds light on the complex interplay between increased crime rates, the impact of COVID-19, changing market dynamics, and decreased foot traffic in the retail sector. The situation is not unique to Nordstrom alone, as other businesses in the area have also been affected, contributing to the economic challenges faced by San Francisco.