Nordstrom bids farewell to downtown San Francisco after 34 years

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The iconic department store Nordstrom has closed its doors at the Westfield San Francisco Centre on Sunday, ending its 34-year presence in the city’s downtown area. The closure comes amid a wave of retail exits from the Market Street corridor, which has been plagued by safety and economic challenges.

Nordstrom cites unsafe conditions and declining sales

Nordstrom announced in May that it would not renew its lease obligations at the Westfield San Francisco Centre and the nearby Nordstrom Rack, which shut down in July. The company said the decision was based on “the changing needs of our customers and our business” and thanked its loyal customers and employees for their support.

However, SF Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents the district where the stores are located, said on Twitter that Nordstrom cited “unsafe conditions for customers, retailers and employees” as a reason for the closures. He expressed his disappointment and called for more staffing and resources for the San Francisco Police Department.

Nordstrom bids farewell

Dorsey also blamed the city’s policies and regulations for creating a hostile environment for businesses and residents. He said the city needs to address the issues of homelessness, drug abuse, mental health, and crime that have plagued the downtown area.

Nordstrom joins other major retailers in leaving downtown SF

Nordstrom is not the only major retailer to leave downtown San Francisco in recent months. Saks OFF 5TH, Old Navy, Anthropologie, and Gap have also closed their stores on Market Street this year. The Westfield mall, where Nordstrom was located, announced in June that it would close after operating for more than 20 years.

The retail exodus has been attributed to various factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping, high rents, and declining foot traffic. However, some observers have also pointed out the role of crime and vandalism in driving away customers and businesses.

In November 2021, a series of smash-and-grab robberies targeted at least 10 stores in the Union Square area, including Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdales, and Walgreens. At least eight people were arrested in connection to those thefts. In April 2023, a man was shot and killed inside a Neiman Marcus store on Stockton Street.

Some retailers see opportunities in downtown SF

Despite the bleak outlook for downtown San Francisco’s retail scene, some retailers see opportunities in the area. IKEA opened a new location at 945 Market St. on Wednesday, offering a smaller and more urban format than its traditional stores. The Swedish furniture giant said it was excited to be part of the city’s recovery and revitalization.

Another retailer that is expanding its presence in downtown SF is Target. The company plans to open two new stores on Market Street this year, one at 4th Street and one at 6th Street. Target said it was committed to serving the diverse needs of the local community and creating jobs.

Nordstrom, meanwhile, still operates four other locations in the Bay Area: Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco, Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, and Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.

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