SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After multiple decades, San Francisco's Nordstrom flagship store is closing Sunday. A once vibrant store is desolate with mannequins packaged away and many empty displays in sectioned-off areas.
"It's half of the mall that is no longer going to be here. I do think it might change the businesses. You can already see it. It's unfortunate," said a Nordstrom employee who did not want to be identified.
A blow for the city's largest mall just months after Westfield pulled out from operating the shopping center.
"It is definitely partially due to the crime in the area. COVID had a big impact," said the Nordstrom employee.
According to the latest city data, sales tax revenue for South of Market the neighborhood the mall is located in has seen a 25% decrease from the first quarter of 2019 to 2023.
The city's Executive Director of the Office of Economic & Workforce Development says the way people shop has changed and downtown will also need to change.
"What we are seeing out there is that younger people particularly when they come to the city they want to see new concepts. They want to see pop-ups and exciting things that are here for a short period of time," said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of Economic & Workforce Development.
The city is planning store pop-ups in the area but also has a plan for the mall.
"We are hoping that in the short term, we can bring those vendors down to ground floor where they have visibility and access to the public and that we keep visitation to that mall. Over the long term we work to build those exciting businesses and some exciting new concepts for what may happen there," said Dennis Phillips.
One of those concepts is a soccer stadium. San Francisco's Mayor London Breed confirmed the city is still in the early preliminary stages of working on a feasibility study in the area.
"It's not just a plan for a soccer stadium. It's showing people what it's possible. We are starting to think about what is downtown in light of the challenges around the retail. So, not only could there be a soccer stadium that could be transformative. Meaning soccer matches, FIFA, and a soccer tournament but concerts," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
The office of the mayor confirmed they are working on changing laws, reforming taxes to attract more businesses to the area, and making streets cleaner and safer.
Just days before Nordstrom closes a new IKEA store opened in the area bringing hope and excitement to downtown.
"IKEA opening I think it's a game changer," said Mayor Breed.
Our media partner the SF Standard created the map below which shows store closures near Union Square and the surrounding area since 2020.
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