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In another severe blow to San Francisco, Macy’s to close historic Union Square store

A night-time photo of a multi-story Macy's store with illuminated interiors and visible shoppers.
The Macy's Union Square location will close its doors, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin. | Camille Cohen/The Standard | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

Macy's will close its flagship Union Square store, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who said the company directly informed him Tuesday morning of its plans.

The move comes after the retail giant announced it will close 150 stores, about 30% of its total locations, over the next three years—including 50 by year-end—due to flagging sales.

Peskin said the historic store, which opened in 1947, will remain open until Macy's finds a buyer for the property it owns. The closure will affect about 400 jobs, according to a local Macy's workers' union. The news was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times.

"We are disappointed to hear about the closure of the historically significant store in Union Square," said United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President John Frahm. "We will do everything we can to ensure that the members of UFCW transition into good jobs."

During the holiday shopping season in 2022, all of the store's full-time retail employees—which include salespeople, cashiers and customer service representatives—all walked out of their jobs to strike against layoffs and cuts to benefits.

"The situation is fluid, and there is no getting around the fact that this announcement hurts," said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance. "I believe that we should work toward a solution that allows Macy’s to keep this iconic store open."

Representatives from Macy's did not respond to a request for comment. Last month, it also eliminated 13% of its corporate staff.

“We are making the necessary moves to reinvigorate relationships with our customers through improved shopping experiences, relevant assortments and compelling value,” said Macy’s CEO Tony Spring in a statement earlier this month.

The company also owns Bloomingdale's at the nearby San Francisco Centre mall, which has a lease that runs until 2046.

Last year, the departure of Nordstrom from the shopping center set off another wave of mass exits from downtown San Francisco. Before that, a Whole Foods store closed a year after opening its doors on Eighth and Market streets.

Macy’s shopper Joe Martinez said he was saddened by the department store's closure, saying it was the latest in a series of shops that have closed in San Francisco.

Man inside store.
When asked about the department store's closure, Macy’s shopper Joe Martinez said, "It sucks, man. We've lost a lot of good stores lately." | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

“It sucks, man,” said Martinez, who moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles roughly one year ago. “We’ve lost a lot of good stores lately, like the Old Navy.”

Downtown San Francisco's central shopping district has struggled with viral robbery incidents and closures of prominent stores in recent years amid globally changing consumer habits accelerated by the pandemic.

'A lot of work to do'

State Sen. Scott Wiener said there is "a lot of work to do" in order to revitalize the city's downtown.

“There will be an automatic narrative that this closure has something to do with San Francisco or with crime,” Wiener said. “But this is a mass closure. ... We need to aggressively and creatively reimagine the future of downtown SF, including Union Square.”

"It’s hard to think of Macy’s not being part of our city anymore," Mayor London Breed said in a statement. "Change is happening in San Francisco. This is why it’s so important we continue to make law changes at local and state levels, and that we reform our tax laws to recruit and retain businesses."

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