American Eagle Outfitters Latest to Leave San Francisco Mall

The retailer will close its store at San Francisco Centre, which has been plagued by crime and safety issues.
American Eagle Outfitters Latest to Leave San Francisco Mall
People walk by an American Eagle Outfitters store in San Francisco on Aug. 9, 2007. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jill McLaughlin

American Eagle Outfitters plans to shutter its only downtown San Francisco retail location, following in the footsteps of other major retail chains that have fled the city’s center in the past year.

The outlet expects to close its doors at the troubled San Francisco Centre, a former Westfield mall location, at the end of June, an associate confirmed May 15.

The Pittsburgh-based American clothing and accessories retailer has 73 other locations in California and more than 1,000 stores, and 40,000 employees nationwide, according to its website.

AEO, the company that owns American Eagle Outfitters, leased the space in 2017, signing an agreement that runs through Jan. 31, 2028, under which the company pays about $2 million a year in rent.

The mall also takes a percentage of sales revenue, which amounts to about $16 million a year.

The decision to close the downtown outlet came after the company took legal action last year against the former mall owner after dealing with ongoing crime and safety issues.

AEO sued Westfield on Sept. 11 for failing to uphold terms in their lease agreement. American Eagle said the failures led to an increase in “rampant criminal activity,” citing more than 100 “significant security incidents” between May 2022 and May 2023.

The store’s entrance faces Market Street, but the retailer closed its front door because of escalating crime, according to the lawsuit, which adds that employees were faced with repeated thefts, aggressive guests, violence, and assaults.

“Westfield let the mall deteriorate into disarray, leaving American Eagle and its employees to suffer,” the retailer said in the court filing. “This is not the store American Eagle paid millions of dollars for, or the store that Westfield promised.”

Westfield also abandoned the mall last year after major clothing chains shuttered operations.

The national mall operator and its partner Brookfield Properties turned over the property to its lender, blaming the downtown’s “challenging operating conditions” that resulted in low foot traffic and plummeting sales.

The mall partners stopped paying on a $558 million loan in 2023, allowing the lender to find another partner.

Nordstrom announced in May that it would close its flagship store at the mall in May 2023 after 35 years in business, saying the downtown area had changed dramatically over the past several years. The store closed at the end of August and several other retailers followed the retail giant out the door.

Despite the closure, American Eagle reported strong earnings in its fourth quarter 2023 report, showing a record revenue of $1.7 billion from October through December—a 12 percent increase over 2022.

American Eagle also unveiled a new growth plan targeting teens.

“Amplifying American Eagle and Aerie’s stronghold in casual apparel is at the very center of our strategic plan,” CEO Jay Schottenstein said in a statement March 7.
Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.