Cue more talk of "doom loops" and retail apocalypses. Nordstrom just revealed plans to close its 312,000-square-foot department store at the Westfield San Francisco Centre in August.
The next shoe to drop in SF's downtown and Union Square vacancy crisis is Nordstrom closing. And if that one-year-old Whole Foods closing a few blocks up Market Street didn't set off Code Red alarms at City Hall, the closing of a 312,000-square-foot anchor store that has been at 5th and Market streets for 35 years is certainly going to.
The SF Business Times broke the news, getting a statement from Chief Stores Officer Jamie Nordstrom, who says, "Decisions like this are never easy, and this one has been especially difficult. 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."
The company plans to shutter its Nordstrom Rack discount store at 901 Market Street on July 1, and then wind down the department store a month later.
Nordstrom says it will instead focus on its 16 other Bay Area Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack locations, e-commerce sales.
While the closure can be seen as part of larger retail contractions nationwide that began before the pandemic, due to shifting shopping patterns generally, it will most certainly only be seen locally as indicative of downtown San Francisco's woes, and a much discussed "doom loop" in which lower foot traffic ultimately decimates the area.
A spokesperson for Westfield, the developer and operator of the shopping center that includes Nordstrom, points the finger squarely at the city and at — you guessed it — petty crime.
"We have urged the city to find solutions to the key issues and lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity," the spokesperson said. "The current environment is not sustainable for the community, or businesses, and we are hopeful the city will implement the changes that are so urgently needed."
The spokesperson also said that Westfield had "actively engaged with city leaders for many years to express our serious concerns, which are shared by our customers and retailers."
Nordstrom opened this store on Market Street, in what was previously a smaller shopping mall, in 1988. About 15 years later, the Westfield Centre opened in the former, historic Emporium building next door, and connected the Nordstrom shopping center to make a single urban mall, with Bloomingdale's as its second anchor tenant.
We just learned Monday that Sak's Off Fifth, another outlet store just steps away from Nordstrom Rack, plans to close its Market Street location in the fall. Ross Dress for Less has already laid claim to that space, and may be relocating up from 4th Street.
The Nordstrom closure also comes on the heels of a high-profile shooting on the same city block last Thursday, in which an alleged shoplifter was killed by an armed Walgreens security guard. On Monday evening, the SF District Attorney's Office declined to file charges in the case because of reasonable doubt around the guard's claim of self-defense.
Westfield has European ownership, and its owners announced over a year ago that it intends to sell off its North American mall properties to focus on the EU market.
Photo: Rick D./Yelp