Nordstrom is closing both of its stores in downtown San Francisco, citing the changing “dynamics” of the area that hasn’t recovered since the pandemic and has been in the spotlight for crime.
The two locations are a 312,000-square-foot, five-floor Nordstrom department store at the Westfield mall and a Rack, its discount outlet, across the street on Market Street. Both locations will close in the summer with the upscale chain department store explaining in a memo to employees that it’s letting the stores’ leases expire.
“Decisions like this are never easy, and this one has been especially difficult,” wrote Jamie Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s chief stores officer, in a recent memo. “But as many of you know, the 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.”
Nordstrom’s exit dealt another blow for San Francisco, as several well-known chains have closed in the city. A few weeks ago, a Whole Foods location that opened just a year ago announced it was temporarily closing because of worker safety. San Francisco Standard, an independent news website, has tracked 20 closures of major stores since 2020, including Anthropologie, Office Depot, and CB2.
Incidents of theft in San Francisco have gained national attention, though crime has generally fallen over the past six years.
Property crimes in San Francisco have garnered national attention because of several attention-grabbing videos of thieves in action. Though still well below 2017 levels, the city saw a 23% increase in property crimes between 2020 and 2022, with spikes in burglary and theft headlining the surge, according to San Francisco Police Department data.
Meanwhile, violent crime statistics in San Francisco have remained relatively steady in recent years. Preliminary police data reports 12 homicides in San Francisco this year, an uptick of 20% compared to the same period in the previous year. In total, there were 56 homicides in San Francisco in 2022, which is the same number of homicides the city saw in 2021.
There are several other reasons that may have contributed to the Nordstrom locations’ closures besides crime. For starters, remote work following the pandemic has caused a decrease in foot traffic in major US downtowns, including San Francisco. Malls have also been fading in popularity with shoppers as they shift their allegiance online.
Nordstrom has also faced its own struggles, recently announcing it was closing its Canadian stores. It’s also focusing its efforts on the discount Rack unit and recently unveiled a rebrand to attract new shoppers.