When The Standard first published a list of retailers closing locations in Union Square, several readers sent in updates: “You missed Lush,” for example, or, “I used to stop at The Ordinary after my hair appointment—now it’s gone.”
And though any walk through Union Square will reveal vacant storefronts, many new high-end stores have also opened on its streets in the past year. The mix prompted The Standard to attempt to answer the question: How many stores closed in San Francisco’s historic shopping district during the pandemic?
To find the answer, The Standard began by assembling a list of retailers in business on the streets of Union Square during 2019. The database was compiled by reviewing past listings of Union Square Alliance members and other online sources that detailed retail storefronts operating in the area before the pandemic hit in early 2020.
Our researchers then spent several days combing the streets of Union Square and noting addresses of vacant—and recently filled—storefronts. The addresses were cross-referenced and double-checked against the 2019 database.
The bottom line? Approximately 203 retailers were open on the streets surrounding Union Square in 2019. By May 2023, only 107, or 53%, were still in business.
The project found that out of all pre-pandemic storefronts, 95 retailers closed, and another one—Williams-Sonoma—will close in 2024.
At the same time, several new stores started operations in Union Square since 2020. A total of 12 opened since the pandemic but two—Arc'teryx and Coco Republic—have already closed or plan to shut down. Another seven retail locations are planning to open by 2024, according to information provided by the Union Square Alliance.
While Market and Powell streets have been hit hard by store closures, a map of retailer activity around Union Square shows that there have been openings and closings all throughout the district. Zoom into the map below for a street-level look at the changes over the past few years.
There are a few important caveats to this analysis: The nearly 100 stores inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre are not part of this dataset. Neither are service-driven establishments like salons, restaurants or business services like UPS or FedEx centers. Also excluded? Cannabis dispensaries, two of which closed in Union Square during the pandemic.
The Standard has assembled a list of 2019-2023 Union Square retailers in the table below. Enter the name of a specific retailer in the search bar to find out if the brand still has a storefront in Union Square.
Notice an opening or closure not included in this database? Email The Standard Research team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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