Major Retail Exodus: High Crime and Homelessness Forces Closure of AT&T Store in San Francisco

San Francisco is now stuck in a vicious cycle.
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AT&T has recently announced the unfortunate closure of its flagship store in the Union Square shopping district of San Francisco, adding to the ongoing struggles of the city’s retail sector. The store, located at 1 Powell Street, is one of the largest in the country and is set to be closed on August 1. Reports have indicated that rampant theft and rising homelessness have contributed to the dwindling customer base, forcing many high street retailers to leave the downtown area. This closure comes on the heels of Cinemark’s decision to close its theater in the Westfield Mall, as Westfield is considering closing the mall entirely.

A recent report by the San Francisco Standard Around reveals that 46 percent of stores in downtown San Francisco’s Westfield mall have closed down since 2020, with 45 out of the 97 retailers and 16 of the 36 food vendors shuttering. Since 2020, Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Microsoft, Tiffany & Co., and Timberland have all joined the ranks of those major retailers that have left the mall. Westfield recently blamed the “unsafe conditions” and “lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity” for Nordstrom’s departure and reported that this poor performance in San Francisco is in sharp contrast to its other locations.

Moreover, Whole Foods, Old Navy, Gap, and Office Depot have also announced in recent months that they are closing in the shopping district. The total number of retailers in San Francisco’s Union Square area has decreased from 203 in 2019 to just 107 at present, a 47 percent decline in a few pandemic-ravaged years.

San Francisco is now stuck in a vicious cycle. Due to remote work, downtown areas have become quieter, and empty streets have become more dangerous. This rise in crime has deterred people from visiting downtown. As a result, the city loses essential tax revenues and the area becomes less appealing. The city’s image to potential visitors has been tarnished by numerous high-profile criminal episodes, as well as rampant and unprosecuted theft that has prompted many retail closures.

Sadly, tech executive Bob Lee is one of the latest murder victims in the city, allegedly murdered by another tech executive on April 4. According to the official government count, San Francisco saw a surge of 41 percent in drug-related deaths in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time last year, as fentanyl devastated the city’s homeless population. The number of homeless people in San Francisco has risen to almost 8,000, comprising the second-highest figure of any year since 2005, according to tallies taken in February of last year.

In conclusion, the closure of AT&T’s flagship store in downtown San Francisco is indicative of the ongoing struggles of the city’s retail sector. The rise of crime and homelessness has caused many high street retailers to abandon the downtown area, resulting in a significant decline in the number of operational retailers. Remote work has also impacted the downtown area, driving away customers and causing significant revenue losses for the city. These issues are likely to persist without rapid intervention from the city government.

Next News Network Team

Next News Network Team

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