San Francisco Struggles Amid Massive Exodus

( – A growing number of retailers are closing locations in San Francisco in what some are calling a “retail exodus” from the city. Dozens of major brands with histories in San Francisco have decided to pull stores from the area, including H&M, Whole Foods, Old Navy, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Marshall’s, Banana Republic, and Gap, among others.

While retailers have all given different statements as to why they’re pulling their stores from one of the largest cities in the United States, such as Nordstrom claiming it’s due to changing “dynamics” within the city, escalating crime in the area is certainly a major factor. Whole Foods came to close to acknowledging rising crime as the reason, saying they closed their flagship store in order to “ensure worker safety” and were transferring all employees to other stores.

Retailers outside of San Francisco have been a bit more open. Daud Shuja, owner and designer of a luxury clothier said customers who don’t like “the homelessness, the environment, [or] the ambience” of San Francisco will drive an hour or more to his store in San Jose.

Many of the brands that remained in the city have changed hours or security within their stores to deter theft. Photos and videos of retail locations in San Francisco show that many products have been locked up behind glass due to how much theft they have been experiencing. The Target in San Francisco has almost all personal care items, such as shampoo and body wash, locked up behind glass. A reporter for the Daily Mail witnessed four thefts within 15 minutes while at the Walgreens in San Francisco, which now locks up their entire candy aisle.

The loss of people who worked in downtown San Francisco and have become remote employees since the pandemic has certainly not helped the situation. Some industries, such as hotels and hospitality, have significantly declined revenues and have not recovered to pre-2020 levels. Commuter rail traffic to downtown San Francisco is down to 33% of pre-pandemic levels, while the number of people who go into the office on a weekly basis is not even half of what it used to be.

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