Nordstrom recently announced they’ll be closing both of their stores in San Francisco, saying “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.” Not only will that leave consumers with fewer choices and property owners without tenants, but it will also leave nearly 400 people without a job.
In short, it’s too dangerous, and the city is doing nothing about it. One of the locations that will be closing is in the Westfield Mall, which released a statement. They said that, for years they have “urged the city to find solutions to the key issues and lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity.”
Nordstrom is not the only store forced into this position. Last month, Whole Foods announced they’d be closing their downtown San Francisco location just a year after opening, citing the same reasons, and multiple other stores have closed. A recent count said 20 stores in the Union Square area have closed since 2020.
San Francisco is hardly alone. Stores are closing in Chicago, Seattle, and other cities across the country. Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said that rising crime in the stores “is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable.” They are one of the major retailers – along with Target, Walgreens and others – which is closing multiple stores due to the rise in crime.
It doesn’t have to be like this, but communities and law enforcement will have to come together for a solution that works.
Career criminals – especially those who are violent – cannot be given the same leniency as someone shoplifting for the first time. Instead, communities need to implement tougher sentences for repeat and violent offenders. The New York Times reported more than 6,000 shoplifting crimes in the city were committed by the same 327 people. In Hartford, Connecticut, shooting suspects typically have long criminal records with an average of 10 prior arrests – roughly three of which are for felonies. Albuquerque, New Mexico, jail records showed that on a given weekday the police arrested 70 to 90 people, while the majority of those were repeat offenders. On one specific day, 73 people were arrested, and of those, 60 had warrants. These are the criminals who need harsher sentences.
To revitalize these areas, we will also need fully-funded police departments that will bring in a greater police presence and allow for better-trained law enforcement officers. Currently, the San Francisco Police Department is down 335 officers since 2017. Now, they have 1,537 officers – well short of the goal of 2,100.
When closing their flagship store, Whole Foods said “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”
Safety is possible. Revitalization is possible. We can work to make our communities safer for everyone if we take on the issue reasonably and work together