Nordstrom to Close Last 2 San Francisco Stores: ‘Current Environment Is Not Sustainable’

Nordstrom announced it will be pulling out of its anchor location at San Francisco’s Westfield Mall, and closing its last Nordstrom Rack across the street.

In an email sent to employees by Jamie Nordstrom, the company’s chief stores officer, the retailer said the Rack location’s last day of business will be July 1 and the mall location will close its doors at the end of August.

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In his letter, the executive cited the “dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market,” which “have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”

The late August closing will punctuate the end of a 35-year relationship between Nordstrom and San Francisco, but the stores boss said the Seattle-based company plans to support and grow other Nordstrom Rack locations in the Bay Area.

“With both leases set to expire, and after looking closely at our opportunities in the region, we believe we can better serve our customers there by focusing on our 16 nearby Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack locations, as well as online,” Jamie Nordstrom told employees. “We also remain committed to the Bay Area market and have made significant investments in our stores there over the past several years.”

The Nordstrom exec pointed to 20 new Rack developments planned nationwide for 2024, as well as a new store coming online in Pinole, 20 miles from downtown San Francisco, and a newly completed remodel at the Valley Fair Rack location 50 miles away.

The letter emphasized that the closings had nothing to do with employee performance or sales, but a joint statement released by the Westfield Mall blamed shoplifting and deviant customer behavior for Nordstrom’s departure.

“The planned closure of Nordstrom underscores the deteriorating situation in downtown San Francisco. A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area,” the statement read. “[Parent company Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield] URW has actively engaged with City leaders for many years to express our serious concerns, which are shared by our customers and retailers. We have urged the City to find solutions to the key issues and lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity. The current environment is not sustainable for the community, or businesses, and we are hopeful the City will implement the changes that are so urgently needed.”

So far in 2023 there have been 10,059 incidents of larceny theft, which includes shoplifting, according to the San Francisco Police Department’s year-to-date data through April 30.

Nordstrom isn’t alone in announcing its pullout of San Francisco.

Anthropologie recently announced it will be closing its Market Street location on May 13, the Saks Off 5th on the same thoroughfare will be shuttering in the fall and the area’s Whole Foods location closed last month.

In a statement to Sourcing Journal a Saks Off 5th spokesperson did not mention retail crime as a reason for its departure.

“Through the regular course of business we continually evaluate store performance and other factors, and, from time to time, may determine it necessary to close a store,” the spokesperson said via email. “Following the closure, customers will be able to continue to shop with us at and at our other nearby locations, including stores in Petaluma, Livermore and Milpitas.”

Once the Nordstrom locations cease operations, the Union Square shopping area in downtown San Francisco will have lost at least 19 businesses since the pandemic.

Further up the coast, other West Coast cities face a similar crisis, after REI announced plans to pull out of crime-crippled Portland and Nike closed the doors on its Seattle store. The Swoosh also shut its Portland store and said it would reopen if it could employ off-duty police empowered to arrest shoplifters.

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