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What’s going on with the San Francisco Walgreens shutdowns?

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In response to the unflattering narrative, elected leaders and progressive activists in San Francisco questioned the legitimacy of Walgreens’ explanation for the store closings.

“They say that’s the main reason, but I also think a place doesn’t generate income, and when they’re saturated, SF has a lot of Walgreens locations all over town, so I think there has other factors that come into play, Mayor Race of London told reporters Wednesday.


Supervisor Dean Preston then wrote a twitter thread lamenting that “media reports have accepted Walgreens’ claim that it is shutting down due to retail theft without analysis”, and shared a 2019 SEC filing in which Walgreens announced plans to close 200 stores.

“So is Walgreens closing stores because of theft or because of a pre-existing business plan to cut costs and increase profits by consolidating stores and moving customers to online shopping? Preston asked.

City leaders and critics appear to be highly motivated to preserve their respective narratives, and Walgreens Closures Online Talk is as polarized as one might expect when it comes to crime in San Francisco.

To understand if Walgreens is telling the truth, let’s start with August 2019 SEC filing Preston and other progressives in town share widely. He says the company “plans to shut down about 200 sites in the United States,” as part of a “cost management program” that was announced in December 2018.

For reference, closures accounted for about 3% of Walgreens’ nearly 10,000 locations in the United States, CNBC reported, and Walgreens has closed 10 branches in San Francisco since the start of 2019.

A Walgreens spokesperson told SFGATE in an email that the cost-cutting program to close stores in San Francisco had “already been completed” before the announcement Wednesday that five more stores were closed.

When SFGATE asked Walgreens to respond directly to accusations by Preston and others that the chain was weighing other considerations beyond retail theft, the spokesperson stopped resending the emails.

According to The San Francisco Crime Dashboard, theft-per-theft is up nearly 8% year-over-year, although crime statistics in 2020 are skewed down because the early days of the pandemic put an end to life and forced temporary store closures.

Comparing the theft figures of 2021 to the pre-pandemic figures of 2019, it will be seen that the theft reports are in fact on the decline. From January 1, 2021 to October 10, 2021, there were 21,842 reports of theft, and there were 31,958 reports during the same period in 2019, a decrease of 31.6%.

There were 33,312 reports of theft during the same period in 2018 and 35,483 reports during this period in 2017, so the number of reports of theft has actually declined in recent years.

However, analyzing San Francisco’s crime statistics without an outside benchmark doesn’t tell the whole story, as the city has higher than normal property crime rates. FBI data from 2017 showed that of the 20 largest cities in the United States, San Francisco had the highest rate of property crime per capita, and in 2019, SF had the highest rate of property crimes in the state of California.

That said, the idea that theft by theft has worsened significantly over the past few years is not supported by the data, even though there has been an increase in viral videos showing brazen thefts. Walgreens could argue that the level of retail theft in San Francisco remains so high that year-over-year declines do not move the needle and its San Francisco business remains unprofitable, but the company does not and likely will not open its books for review. .

It should also be noted that theft encompasses a broader spectrum of crimes than simple retail theft, including theft of bicycles, motor vehicle parts and accessories. San Francisco does not report statistics on thefts from retail stores in isolation, let alone on thefts from pharmacies in isolation.

Regardless, the situation with both the Walgreens and San Francisco crime is a bit more complex than the mainstream accounts suggest.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.sfgate.com/bay-area-politics/article/San-Francisco-Walgreens-closure-retail-theft-16533142.php

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