Shoplifting gave Macy’s an ‘excuse’ to close iconic San Francisco store, union says



Macy’s Inc.’s decision to close its iconic store in San Francisco’s Union Square has thrust the issue of retail theft into the spotlight once again — although the union representing workers at the store thinks that shoplifting may have simply provided an excuse for its closure. 

“I think it gives them the excuse to do what they wanted to do for the last few years,” Jim Araby, director of strategic campaigns at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, told MarketWatch. “I don’t deny that [shoplifting is] happening, I don’t deny that it’s having an impact … but I don’t think it is enough impact on their bottom line to want to close their store.”

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Standard reported that “rampant” shoplifting is to blame for the store’s planned closure, citing comments by workers at the store.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed told local news station KRON4 that the closure was not related to crime.

Related: Retailers talk a lot about rising theft. But a retail-industry report finds a key metric hasn’t increased much.

“I think it’s sad that after decades of being an iconic brand in an iconic city like San Francisco, that Macy’s decided to close the store entirely and walk away,” Araby said.

UFCW5 has approximately 400 members at the Union Square store. Araby told MarketWatch that the store’s closure was communicated to workers on Tuesday, the same day that Macy’s
M,
-7.72%
announced a plan to close 150 stores.

Macy’s said the closure of 150 “unproductive” stores by 2026, including 50 by the end of the current fiscal year, is part of a plan to boost growth and revitalize the brand.

“Our new strategy is designed to create a more modern Macy’s Inc. and enhance the customer experience,” said a Macy’s spokesperson in a statement provided to MarketWatch. “We intend to close approximately 150 Macy’s stores while further investing in our 350 go-forward fleet over the next three years. A final decision on specific locations has yet to be made.”

From the archives (November 2023): Retail ‘shrink’ is about much more than theft, analysts say

MarketWatch understands that an evaluation is underway and, if Macy’s proceeds with closing the Union Square location, the soonest it will happen will be 2025.

Analysts have said there is much more to retail-industry shrink than simply theft. A Target Corp.
TGT,
-0.36%
announcement about the closure of nine stores across four states, for example, was scrutinized last fall in light of local crime and foot-traffic data.

Macy’s shares ended Wednesday’s session down 7.7%. The stock is up 17.7% over the last three months, outpacing the S&P 500 index’s
SPX
gain of 11.4%.



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