Pathetic Ghost Town San Francisco: Crime-ridden city has lost HALF its downtown stores since COVID hit, with 95 shuttering, and just 12 new retailers opening in their places, as homeware store Williams-Sonoma announces it’s closing too
- Just 107 of the 203 retailers open in city’s downtown in 2019 still remain
- Another 12 stores opened since then, but already two of them have closed
- Brooks Brothers, Ray Ban, Christian Louboutin, Lululemon among big name exits
Major stores continue to back out of crime-ridden San Francisco, with a disturbing report showing 95 retailers downtown – more than half the total – have closed since the start of the COVID pandemic.
At least one more is set to, with Williams-Sonoma announcing they’ll shut down in 2024.
Out of 203 retailers open in 2019 in the city’s Union Square area, just 107 are still operating, a drop of 47 percent in just a few pandemic-ravaged years.
Among the heavy hitters, Brooks Brothers, Ray Ban, Christian Louboutin, Lululemon and Marmot have all packed it in.
Another 12 new retailers have opened in the area since the pandemic began in 2020 but already two have them have either closed or plan to shut down.
Major stores continue to back out of crime-ridden San Francisco, with a disturbing report showing 95 retailers downtown – more than half – have closed since the start of the COVID pandemic. This map shows a small selection of the big-name departures
Rampant crime in downtown San Francisco has left numerous retailers throwing up their hands and moving out.
In April, Whole Foods announced it was closing its locations, while Anthropologie and Office Depot have also left.
Remaining stores like Target have been reduced to locking up their entire stock behind glass to deter shoplifters.
One important note is that the figures from The San Francisco Standard don’t include the 100 stores in the Westfield San Francisco Centre Mall.
They also didn’t count cannabis dispensaries, two of which also packed up and left the city during the pandemic, or service-driven businesses.
‘Decisions like this are never easy, and this one has been especially difficult,’ wrote Nordstrom in his email.
‘But as many of you know, the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.’
Westfield Mall was much more blunt in its statement to the Washington Post, pointing directly to rising crime running business out of town, which it referred to as ‘unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees.’
Out of 203 retailers open in 2019 in the city’s Union Square area, just 107 are still operating, a drop of 47 percent in just a few pandemic-ravaged years
Among the heavy hitters, Brooks Brothers, Ray Ban, Christian Louboutin, Lululemon and Marmot have all packed it in
Another 12 new retailers have opened in the area since the pandemic began in 2020 but already two have them have either closed or plan to shut down
The Nordstrom Rack in downtown San Francisco which will be closing on July 1
Whole Foods previously closed a flagship store in downtown San Francisco
The mall said ‘these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area.’
Nordstrom joins the growing list of stores that have abandoned the the coastal city, including H&M, Marshall’s, Gap, and Banana Republic, among others.
Despite official reports that San Francisco’s crime rate is on the way down, one former prosecutor said this month that the city’s liberal district attorney’s decision not to prosecute many crimes skewed those numbers.
Gap was the first to announce its departure in August 2020, shortly followed by H&M and Marshall’s. As the years went on, more stores slowly pulled out.
The Market Street Anthropologie will be closing its doors on May 13, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. As a result, the brand will no longer have a location in the city.
Office Depot, located on Third Street, will also be shuttered, but the exact closing date is unknown. The brand has a bigger store on Geary Boulevard, which will not close.
The Market Street Anthropologie (pictured) will be closing its doors on May 13
Office Depot, located on Third Street (pictured) ,will also be closing
Downtown San Francisco has had a hard time bouncing back after the pandemic as shoppers have failed to flock back to the once-popular shopping location.
The city as a whole has struggled to recover as the city’s residents continue to battle a crime epidemic, brought into sharp focus recently with the murder of Cash App CEO Bob Lee and the brutal broad daylight attack on the city’s former fire commissioner.
Although crime is down nearly eight percent, compared to the same time last year, stores have begun locking up merchandise.
A video posted on TikTok on April 20 shows all of the items secured behind glass.
According to geotagged imagery, some products at the store on Folsom Street were secured by lock and key since at least October of last year, WNCT reported.
A Target location in San Francisco has been forced to place its inventory behind glass to combat shoplifting
Organic food giant Whole Foods opened a new ‘flagship’ location at Trinity Place in the city’s Tenderloin District in March 2022, hoping to revitalize footfall after two years of draconian COVID-19 restrictions severely impacted businesses in the area.
But a Whole Foods spokesperson declared the store closed down due to safety concerns for its staff. ‘We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being,’ the spokesperson said in a statement. ‘If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.’
T he company cited deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime near the store as the driving factors behind the closure.
Industry groups have noted that there is an issue with theft, with the National Retail Federation saying that organized retail crime is setting stores back around $100 billion a year, according to a 2022 survey.
In 2021, retailers saw a 27 per cent increase in theft.
Uber abandons 285,000 square foot San Francisco office as staff insist on working from home as deserted city is overrun by homelessness and drugs
- Uber has abandoned one of its new 11-story headquarters buildings in San Francisco’s Mission Bay which can fit 1,534 workers and has 73 parking spaces
- The fully furnished property has cost the ride-sharing firm $84 per square foot since it opened in 2019 – the firm has also spent $160M to build-out the space
- Tech giants across the Bay Area have been rapidly shedding office spaces as pandemic-era hybrid work models persist and recent mass layoffs
Uber has abandoned its 285,000 square foot San Francisco office as staff insist on working from home.
The 11-story Mission Bay property is one of four buildings owned by the ride-sharing giant and is fully furnished with space for 1,534 employees – although none have set foot inside the office space.
Since 2019, the company has been paying $84 per square foot and also splashed out close to $160 million to build out the space.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed the listing to CoStar News, adding that the company never occupied the property developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities at 1725 Third St.
It comes as the city battles a spike in commercial real estate vacancies amid a scourge of homelessness and a rise in drug related deaths in the city.
Uber has abandoned one of its new 11-story headquarters buildings in San Francisco as an uncertain economic future and the rise of pandemic-era hybrid work models plague the city
‘We are in the early stages of seeking interest in subleasing one of our four buildings in Mission Bay,’ the spokesperson said.
‘As one of our buildings is currently unoccupied, this will not change our footprint in the city or impact space available for employees.
‘We remain committed to our hybrid work approach, which emphasizes in-person collaboration, and continue to welcome employees to our Mission Bay campus.’
Uber implemented a flexible work policy in late 2022 requiring nonremote employees to be in an office on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week to ‘maximize the benefits of in-person collaboration,’ the company’s Chief People Officer Nikki Krishnamurthy wrote on the company website.
‘In addition, employees can work from anywhere for up to four weeks per year,’ she continued.
‘We also have flexibility for some employees to be fully remote, depending on their role and location.
‘This enables us to hire and retain employees outside of our hub office locations.’
But they aren’t the first in the Bay Area to be rapidly shedding office space as mass layoffs and hybrid work environments persist.
Uber implemented a flexible work policy in late 2022 requiring nonremote employees to be in an office on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week to ‘maximize the benefits of in-person collaboration,’ the company’s Chief People Officer Nikki Krishnamurthy
San Francisco’s reputation as a coastal gem has been left in tatters by worsening crime, drugs, and, homelessness rates, even as it remains home to tech billionaires
In March, Pinterest announced the closures of two offices, Meta slashed 435,000 square feet and Reddit removed half the space it occupies according to the outlet.
Google are expected to pay more than $500 million to shrink their office spaces.
San Francisco saw their vacancy rate in the first quarter of 2023 increase to 29.4 percent up from 27.6 percent the same time last year, according to CBRE’s market report.
Available space has risen above 34 percent, including the growing amount of offices listed for sublease that are not yet vacant.
The amount of office space on the market for sublease is approaching 10million square foot, the report said.
Meanwhile, the deserted city is also coping with a staggering 41 percent surge in the number of drug-related deaths in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time last year – as fentanyl ravaged the city’s homeless population.
The Californian coastal hub saw 200 people die due to overdoses between January and March, compared to 142 deaths in 2022, according to recent data from the city’s medical examiner.
That amounts to one overdose death every 10 hours in a city that has seen its reputation as a coastal gem ravaged by worsening crime, drugs, and, homelessness rates, even as it remains home to tech billionaires.
Addicts openly smoke drugs on the sidewalk of the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, where overdose deaths have rocketed upwards in recent months
San Francisco saw a staggering 41 percent surge in the number of drug-related deaths in the first quarter of 2023
The overdose victims were disproportionately black and Latino men, and frequently based in the Tenderloin area, a gritty downtown neighborhood, where a drug treatment center was shuttered in December.
Those living on the streets were particularly hard hit — with the number of homeless people dying from drug overdoses doubling.
Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that’s frequently trafficked from Mexico and can kill in even tiny quantities, was detected in 159 of the deaths.
The drug is 50-100 times stronger than morphine.
Narcan nasal spray can reverse opioid overdoses and save lives
It is cheap, packs down small, is relatively easy to smuggle into the US, and is mixed into pills that then claim the lives of users, who are often unaware they are taking something so powerful.
Methamphetamine and cocaine were also present, although to a lesser extent.
The sharp increase in deaths started in December and continued into a record-breaking January.
This followed the shuttering of the Tenderloin Center, where addicts were allowed to use drugs and where the overdose reversal treatment, Narcan, was available for those who had taken too much.
Dr Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of addiction medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said it was a ‘crying shame that a city as wealthy as San Francisco can’t get its act together to deal with overdose deaths.’
‘We’re a politically divided city between the people who have a lot of money and want the streets swept and those who think a compassionate, science-based, health approach is appropriate,’ Dr Ciccarone told The Guardian.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed last July replaced the city’s soft-on-crime District Attorney Chesa Boudin with Brooke Jenkins, who vowed to get to grips with the city’s worsening social problems.
Dr Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of addiction medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says San Francisco ‘can’t get its act together to deal with overdose deaths’
This graphic shows the rise in positive urine tests for fentanyl of those receiving drug abuse treatment in different parts of the US. Millennium Health’s data is based on some 4.5 million samples
A homeless woman smokes crack with two others in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco
Breed in December shuttered the Tenderloin Center, which assisted more than 400 people each day, after complaints from residents who said it drew in drug addicts to the run-down area.
Breed cited the center’s low success rate – only getting less than 1 percent of attendees into drug treatment schemes.
Millennium Health, which processes drug tests nationwide, recently told DailyMail.com that it’s researchers had detected a ninefold rise in fentanyl use in the western US between 2019 and 2022.
What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?
Fentanyl was originally developed in Belgium in the 1950s to aid cancer patients with their pain management.
Given its extreme potency it has become popular amongst recreational drug users.
Overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl jumped from nearly 10,000 in 2015 to nearly 20,000 in 2016 – surpassing common opioid painkillers and heroin for the first time.
And drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in the US in 2017 – a record driven by fentanyl.
It is often added to heroin because it creates the same high as the drug, with the effects biologically identical. But it can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to officials in the US.
In the US, fentanyl is classified as a schedule II drug – indicating it has some medical use but it has a strong potential to be abused and can create psychological and physical dependence.
Eric Dawson, the group’s vice president, said the powerful opioid has now cast its deadly shadow across the whole country.
The biggest rises were seen along the Pacific coast and mountain regions, which respectively saw 900 percent and 875 percent increases in detections of the powerful synthetic opioid.
‘It’s very scary,’ Dawson told DailyMail.com.
‘Fentanyl has exploded out west, it’s caught up with the rest of the country and the country is now blanketed in fentanyl.’
Scenes of fentanyl-addled mayhem are common on the streets of western cities like San Francisco and Portland, but the research showed how even towns and rural and mountain areas have been badly hit.
The US opioid crisis has been surging for decades, but intensified in the pandemic, when lockdowns and hospital closures left people particularly bored and vulnerable to addiction.
This latest phase of addiction involving fentanyl has been more deadly and difficult to control, due in large part to the potency of the drug.
Fentanyl is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, or pressed into pills that resemble other prescription opioids. On the street, it is known as everything from ‘blues’ to China Girl, and Goodfellas.
Tests by the Drug Enforcement Administration show that four in ten pills sold in the US have at least 2mg of fentanyl — the equivalent of about five grains of salt — a dose that is considered potentially lethal.
The agency warns that ‘one pill can kill’.
The Facebook group Lost Voices of Fentanyl has tens of thousands of members who pay tribute to their loved ones who were claimed by the drug.
In Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and other big cities, the sight of homeless people collapsed on sidewalks, puffing fentanyl smoke and lurching from moments of slumber to bouts of violent shivering have become all too common.
The devastation has become so bad that fentanyl flows across the US-Mexico border have become a flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans.