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San Francisco’s iconic Union Square Macy’s will close

An aerial view of ice rink, with a store in the background.
Macy’s massive store in downtown San Francisco’s Union Square, overlooking the holiday ice rink, will close as part of the company’s plan to shut 150 underperforming locations, about 30% of the Macy’s stores.
(Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square)
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It’s a bad time for lovers of big retail stores.

As Macy’s announced plans to close 30% of its locations, including its store in San Francisco’s Union Square, Walmart said it will shut the doors to its West Covina store — all blamed on underperformance.

Macy’s announced Tuesday that it would shut down 150 stores by 2026 and spruce up the remaining 350 stores in a turnaround effort after posting a fourth-quarter loss of $71 million on a nearly 2% slip in sales.

Dubbed “A Bold New Chapter,” the strategy also involves a bid for higher-end shoppers by opening 15 small-format Bloomingdale’s stores, called Bloomies, and 30 of its luxury Bluemercury cosmetics locations.

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Macy’s hasn’t yet released a list of the 50 stores it will close this year. The 150 locations account for less than 10% of sales, Macy’s said.

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The Macy’s in Union Square will be part of the 150 closures, as the retailer plans to sell its property there, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement Tuesday. Breed said that the store will remain open “for the foreseeable future” and that people will continue to be employed at the store. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the store will remain open until at least 2025.

“The process to undergo the sale of their building to a new owner with their own vision for this site will take time,” Breed said in the statement. “The City will continue to work closely with Macy’s and any potential new owner to ensure this iconic location continues to serve San Francisco for decades to come.”

Department stores have struggled in recent years as middle-class shoppers have turned to discount chains. Many luxury brands, on the other hand, have managed to maintain their cachet.

Walmart said the decision to shut the West Covina store March 29 was made after a “thoughtful review process” that included factors such as historic and current financial performance. The retailer said there are currently no plans to shut additional stores in the area.

All of the store’s 237 employees will have the opportunity to transfer to nearby stores and will be paid through May 31, Walmart said. Eligible employees who do not transfer will receive severance after that date.

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The store’s pharmacy will also close, and staff will work with customers to transfer prescriptions to other Walmart locations.

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The Walmart, which is located at 2753 E. Eastland Center Drive, opened in 2012 and filled the anchor position in the Eastland Center shopping plaza. West Covina’s mayor at the time, Mike Touhey, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that the store was expected to generate $500,000 in sales tax revenue a year.

The closure isn’t expected to have a major effect on the city’s coffers, as Walmart accounts for about 1.5% of West Covina’s overall sales tax revenue, said West Covina Finance Director Stephanie Sikkema.

“It is unfortunate to lose any business in the city,” Sikkema said, adding: “We are diverse enough to withstand the closure.”

The city has reached out to the owner of the property to assist with next steps in finding a new tenant for the space, Sikkema said. The city is also working to assist affected employees through regional and state programs that help with issues such as writing a resume and applying for unemployment insurance, she said.

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