Gap Inc. will permanently close its flagship store near Union Square, as the coronavirus pandemic and prolonged retail woes strike into the heart of the company’s San Francisco hometown.
The company has also closed two other Gap stores in the city — in Embarcadero Center near its waterfront corporate headquarters and Stonestown Galleria — for good.
That leaves the Chestnut Street location as the only Gap store operational in San Francisco. The company’s Old Navy flagship on Market Street, multiple Banana Republic and Athleta locations, as well as Intermix on Fillmore, remain open.
“While these stores were initially closed as a result of city mandates, these permanent closures are part of the larger strategy we announced last year to resize our fleet based on customer shopping patterns and store profitability,” Gap said in an email to The Chronicle. “As with any store closure, we are encouraging employees to find opportunities at other locations within our family of brands.”
In April, Gap said that it stopped paying rent for North American stores that were closed because of coronavirus orders, and that it was actively renegotiating lease terms. Weeks later, the predominantly mall-based retailer was sued by two of its biggest landlords, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties, for failing to pay millions in rent.
In July, Gap Inc., including its subsidiaries Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Janie and Jack, countersued the mall landlords and said that even as government restrictions ease, the pandemic remains widespread and harmful, and has resulted in “severe and irreparable hardships” for the company that were not foreseeable when the leases were signed.
The retail industry had plenty of troubles pre-pandemic, with fewer people visiting malls and an abundance of online competition, but since March, the sector has faced a worsening crisis as mall stores closed and reopened and closed again, and customers pulled back on spending amid rising unemployment.
Retail bankruptcies have mounted, with Stein Mart, a 112-year-old discount retailer, and Lord & Taylor, considered to be the oldest department store in the country, filing for bankruptcy protection this month.
The demise of the three-story Gap flagship — located in the historic Flood Building, which dates to 1904 — adds to the list of permanent closures in and around Union Square, including Warby Parker, Brooks Brothers, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Vilebriquin and Agent Provocateur, among others.
Shwanika Narayan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter, Instagram: @shwanika