Is Shoplifting Forcing Walgreens To Cut SF? Data on store closures puts the claim in perspective – .

Is Shoplifting Forcing Walgreens To Cut SF? Data on store closures puts the claim in perspective – .

Data released by the San Francisco Police Department does not support Walgreens’ reported explanation that it is closing five stores due to organized and rampant retail thefts.

One of the stores on the verge of closure on Ocean Avenue has reported just seven shoplifting incidents this year and a total of 23 since 2018, the data shows. While not all shoplifting is reported to police, the five stores expected to close have seen less than two shoplifting per month on average since 2018.

The announcement put Walgreens at the center of one of the city’s most acrimonious debates. What amounted to shutting down a small handful of drugstore chains in the city caught national media attention, fueled by an increasingly bitter fight over how San Francisco controls and prosecutes crimes.

“It’s been a while since we sounded the alarm that this problem is not improving,” said Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the California Retailers Association, which represents the retailer perspective.

But the timing of Walgreens’ decision has left observers questioning whether a $ 140 billion company was using an unsubstantiated account of uncontrolled shoplifting to mask other possible factors in its decision.

“They say (shoplifting is) the main reason, but I also think one place isn’t generating income and it’s saturated – SF has a lot of Walgreens locations all over town – so I think there are other factors that come into play, ”the Mayor of London Breed told reporters last week.

A Walgreens spokesperson declined on Friday to answer specific questions about store closures and whether other factors – such as competition from online retailers, stagnant pedestrian traffic due to the pandemic, and openness. at the origin of too many stores in San Francisco – played in the decision.

A Chronicle analysis of city maps found 53 Walgreens in San Francisco, compared to 22 CVS stores. These numbers include locations that are pharmacies only, inside medical buildings, or other retailers.

Spokesman Phil Caruso said he was also unable to share the store revenue figures. Rather, he referred to a previous statement from the company, saying that in recent months retail thefts in San Francisco have been “five times our chain average” in its stores and that as a result, the company had increased its investments. safe for San Francisco sites “at 46 times our chain average”.

Four years ago, Walgreens announced to its shareholders its intention to close 600 stores across the country. It ended up closing 769. In 2019, the Illinois-based company said in a US Security and Exchange Commission filing that it would close 200 stores, less than 3% of its 10,000 locations in the United States – one of many cost-saving measures planned to save $ 1.5 billion in annual spending by 2022, according to the documents.


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