Nordstrom closed the doors of its five-story department store in San Francisco on Sunday, ending a 35-year run as the city suffers a retail exodus.
The retailer announced the closure in May, saying that 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.”
Shoppers told CNN affiliate KGO-TV that it was a “sad day” and that the 312,000-square-foot Nordstrom was an “anchor in San Francisco.” The once-vibrant store was filled with empty displays, sealed-off areas and customers taking a ride on its memorable spiral escalator one last time.
A nearby Nordstrom Rack closed last month.
After Nordstrom announced it was closing, shopping mall operator Westfield said it would give up control of its San Francisco mall, citing “challenging operating conditions in downtown San Francisco, which have led to declines in sales, occupancy and foot traffic.”
Once a bustling retail center in the heart of the city, the San Francisco Centre has taken a significant hit in the past few years. Total sales have fallen from $455 million in 2019 to $298 million in 2022, and foot traffic has plunged from 9.7 million visits in 2019 to 5.6 million in 2022, according to Westfield.
Westfield’s exit marks another significant setback for San Francisco, which saw its economy hit hard by the pandemic as many Silicon Valley companies allowed flexible work-from-home policies, resulting in many white-collar workers filtering out of the city. Three years later, corporate America has yet to return in the same numbers: Office vacancies in San Francisco have reached a 30-year high.
Well-known chain stores like Whole Foods, Anthropologie, Office Depot and CB2 have also ceased operations in the city’s downtown since the start of the pandemic. In total, more than 39 retail stores have shuttered in San Francisco’s Union Square area since 2020, according to a tally from Coresight, a market research firm.
Despite the troubles, Ikea opened last week a three-level, 52,000-square-foot store. City leaders are hopeful that the home furniture store will draw shoppers to downtown San Francisco and support other businesses in the area at a time of store closures and rising public safety concerns.