Whole Foods closes San Francisco flagship store after one year, citing crime
An enormous Whole Foods in downtown San Francisco that opened just last year is temporarily closing. The company said concerns about worker safety forced it to shut down. Incidents of theft in San Francisco have gained national attention, though crime has generally fallen over the past six years.
The nearly 65,000-square foot location at Trinity Place in the city’s Mid-Market neighborhood shut its doors Monday to “ensure the safety” of its employees, a Whole Foods spokesperson said. Although Whole Foods did not share any additional information on the conditions that led to the store closing, the spokesperson added that it was a “difficult decision to close the Trinity store for the time being.” Affected employees will be transferred to nearby stores.
The store at 8th and Market streets will not open Tuesday, the spokesperson said. The store’s website has also disappeared.
Heralded as a “flagship store” following its March 2022 opening, the Whole Foods was one of the largest supermarkets in downtown San Francisco. The store sold 3,700 local products and was designed with “nods to classic San Francisco,” according to a news release.
The San Francisco Standard, an independent news website, reported that this Whole Foods location had previously reduced operating hours last year because of theft and changed its bathrooms after employees found syringes and pipes.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Matt Dorsey said on Twitter that he was “incredibly disappointed” by the closure.
“Our neighborhood waited a long time for this supermarket, but we’re also well aware of problems they’ve experienced with drug-related retail theft, adjacent drug markets, and the many safety issues related to them,” Dorsey wrote.
Property crimes in San Francisco have garnered national attention because of several attention-grabbing videos of thieves in action. Though still well below 2017 levels, the city saw a 23% increase in property crimes between 2020 and 2022, with spikes in burglary and theft headlining the surge, according to San Francisco Police Department data.
Meanwhile, violent crime statistics in San Francisco have remained relatively steady in recent years. Preliminary police data reports 12 homicides in San Francisco this year, an uptick of 20% compared to the same period in the previous year. In total, there were 56 homicides in San Francisco in 2022, which is the same number of homicides the city saw in 2021.
In recent months, national retailers have been complaining about thefts affecting locations. Chains took action by locking up everyday products such as deodorant and toothpaste and added extra security guards. However, a Walgreens executive recently admitted that the impact of the thefts may have been overblown.
A San Francisco Cotopaxi store temporarily closed in October 2022, citing theft and employee safety, reopening in mid-November.
Cotopaxi CEO Davis Smith, in a LinkedIn post, said at the time that the “large-scale theft and raiding” put the store’s employees at risk. But he also said he regretted that the store’s closure became the subject of a political debate about crime in San Francisco and other cities.
“We had many jumping to our support, some who felt offended by my post, and a few who politicized our store’s closure (because these are the times we live in, unfortunately),” Smith wrote. “To be clear, I never anticipated that our decision to close our Hayes Valley store would become entangled in political discourse.”
This story has been updated from its original version to clarify that the company cited worker safety as a concern.