Retail Exodus Continues
Express, a popular fashion store, has announced its decision to close its location at 301 Geary Street in Downtown San Francisco.
This move adds to the growing list of retailers leaving the city due to increasing crime and homelessness issues.
Troubled Shopping Center
A San Francisco Superior Court judge appointed Gregg Williams to take control of the San Francisco Centre, a half-vacant shopping center that has been labeled as “unsafe” by previous operators.
The mall’s decline has been attributed to various factors, including post-pandemic crime and the departure of major retailers like Nordstrom and Westfield Mall.
The Retail Apocalypse
Express is the latest victim of what’s been termed the “retail apocalypse” in Downtown San Francisco.
The closure of longstanding stores such as Whole Foods, Anthropologie, Old Navy, AmazonGo, Saks Off Fifth, and Office Depot has been compounded by more than 95 other businesses shutting down.
Impact on the Shopping Center
The departure of Westfield Mall, once the city’s largest mall, left the San Francisco Centre mostly empty.
Nordstrom also pulled out in August, further contributing to the mall’s struggles. The result is a once-vibrant store now standing empty, with mannequins packed away, and displays untouched.
Crime and Homelessness
While no official reason was given for Express’s closure, former employees have suggested that crime in the area played a significant role.
Rising crime, homelessness, and the lingering effects of COVID-19 have created an environment where businesses are struggling to thrive.
Security Measures and Ownership Change
New owner Gregg Williams, of Trident Pacific, plans to improve security at the shopping center. He intends to hire off-duty police officers and canines to deter potential criminal activity.
Williams will be responsible for collecting rent and implementing a turnaround plan for the complex.
Challenges Facing San Francisco
San Francisco has grappled with numerous issues, including theft, rampant fentanyl use, and fatal overdoses.
The city is on track for a record number of overdose deaths in 2023. Economists warn of an “urban doom loop,” where interconnected trends and forces lead to economic and social decline in cities.
Call for Action
Business owners and stakeholders have called on San Francisco’s elected officials to address the problems plaguing the city.
They emphasize the need to clean up the streets, enforce city and state ordinances, and remove homeless encampments to restore the city’s reputation as a beacon of urban society.
The closure of Express in Downtown San Francisco is emblematic of the challenges faced by retailers in a city grappling with crime, homelessness, and economic decline.
The future of the San Francisco Centre remains uncertain as efforts to revitalize the area continue.