A dramatic decline in sales tax revenues from pre-pandemic levels is a sign of the ongoing retail collapse in downtown San Francisco, the result of a pandemic exodus, as well as mass looting events and urban decay.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
San Francisco’s sales tax revenue in 2022 was about $141 million, a nearly 22% decrease from the $181 million — adjusted for inflation — generated in 2019.
Downtown revenues dove even more. Revenue from business in the South of Market neighborhood fell by 34%, from $21 million in 2019 to $14 million in 2022. The Financial District/South Beach area, which still produces the most sales tax revenue of any neighborhood, dropped around 30% from $41 million to $28 million.
There are many factors behind downtown’s commerce woes. The area suffered a string of closures of major retailers during — and even before — the pandemic. And without office workers, most of whom have not returned to the area, many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat.
The Chronicle adds that there has been improvement in some areas since the post-pandemic reopening. Still, last year, the Chronicle warned that downtown San Francisco was on the verge of “collapse.” And this week, Axios reported that San Francisco was dead last on a list of 63 U.S. cities in comparing mobile phone activity today versus before the pandemic. The city is only at 32% of its pre-pandemic mobile device activity levels.
In November 2021, downtown San Francisco was the epicenter of a wave of mass looting events at high-end retail stores that has continued to sweep the nation.
Earlier this week, Nordstrom announced that it would be closing its stores in downtown San Francisco due to a change in the “dynamics” of the area.
Hollywood producer and pundit Franklin Leonard panned the company’s explanation, claiming on CNN that “the numbers in San Francisco actually don’t back … up” claims of rising crime in the area. However, retail theft has become so common that many major store chains have left the area.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.