Banana Republic turns into newest chain to shut in crime-ridden downtown San Francisco

By James Reynolds and Keith Griffith

12:47 May 25, 2023, updated 13:09 May 25, 2023

Banana Republic is the latest chain to close its doors in a crime-ridden part of San Francisco, joining a slew of brands citing security and lower footfall as reasons for the closure.

The clothing store announced it would be leaving the Westfield San Francisco Center as the city’s flagship store is located at 256 Grant Ave. will also downsize and become a store at 152 Geary St.

Dozens have closed or are expected to close in recent months, including Saks, H&M and Nordstorm, citing a drop in foot traffic, online shopping and safety concerns.

The Gap, which owns Banana Republic, has closed a number of Banana Republic stores during the pandemic and last month announced it would lay off 1,800 employees at its San Francisco headquarters as net sales fell six percent to $15.6 billion last fiscal year US dollar declined.

Drug addicts and homeless people in the Tenderloin District, San Francisco The luxury department store blamed the closings on the changing “dynamics” in the city. Pictured is the Westfield store

High-end retailer Nordstrom is also cutting 400 jobs as it prepares to close all of its San Francisco stores.

A total of 379 jobs will be eliminated at the department store, as well as at the Westfield San Francisco Center mall and the Nordstrom Rack outlet a few doors down.

LEARN MORE Why San Francisco is caught in an apocalyptic DEATH LOOP: A work-from-home boom has devastated the local economy, while drugs and homelessness are soaring thanks to soft policing.

The company announced earlier this month that it was closing both stores, blaming the “changed dynamic” of the crime-ridden city.

Jamie Nordstrom, Chief Stores Officer, said, “Decisions like these are never easy, and this one was particularly difficult.”

“But as many of you are aware, the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past few years, impacting the flow of customers into our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”

Westfield Mall said in its statement to the Washington Post that business churn could be due to “unsafe conditions for customers, retailers and employees.”

The mall said, “These significant problems are preventing an economic recovery for the region.”

In April, Whole Foods announced it was closing its flagship store in downtown San Francisco “for the time being” to ensure the “safety” of employees.

“If we believe we can ensure the safety of our team members in store, we will consider reopening our Trinity location,” a spokesman said.

Multimillionaire tech entrepreneurs in the city have also indicated they would relocate to London, UK, as crime and homelessness rose.

“Tech workers are increasingly disillusioned with San Francisco,” Annie Ingram, a private banker at Coutts, told The Telegraph this week, citing concerns about rising crime, homelessness and outdoor drug use in the Golden Gate City.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri made a highly publicized move from the Bay Area to London’s ritzy Kensington district, despite being called back to the US by Meta bosses.

Organic food giant Whole Foods opened a new “flagship” location on Trinity Place in the city’s Tenderloin area in March 2022, but closed its doors after a year. Bags of beef jerky are sealed in plastic crates at the Target store in the Metreon neighborhood of San Francisco May 8, 2023 as soft crime policies correlate with an ongoing crisis of everyday shoplifting

A recent study found that San Francisco is the most expensive US city to raise children at more than $35,000 a year.

At the same time, residents say San Francisco is beginning to feel like a ghost town as many retailers are moving out of town due to crime and low foot traffic.

A disturbing recent report showed that 95 retailers in downtown San Francisco have closed since the COVID pandemic began, down more than 50 percent.

Of the 203 retailers that opened in the city’s Union Square area in 2019, only 107 are still operating, a 47 percent drop in just a few years battered by the pandemic.

In early May, T-Mobile closed its flagship store in Union Square, a 17,000-square-foot building in the heart of the city.

They said it was part of a “nationwide retail strategy to better serve customers”.

The T-Mobile building previously housed Apple’s flagship store before the tech giant moved to its current Post Street location.

Since early May, San Francisco has been hit by a spate of retail closures since the pandemic as the city failed to deal with rising crime and drug problems. The Anthropologie store in Union Square (pictured) in San Francisco is now closed

Earlier this month, women’s retailer Anthropologie closed its store in the Union Square retail space in San Francisco as more stores relocated for security reasons.

The now-closed location was scheduled to close permanently on May 13. They urge customers to visit nearby branches on Fourth St and Village at Corte Madera.

Though Anthropologie didn’t give a reason, they join retailers like RealReal, Gap and Whole Foods that have closed their nearby locations.

The city is also affected by a statewide shoplifting law that downgrades theft of goods from a criminal offense to a far less serious offence.

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