In the United States, the impact of the pandemic has been prolonged, and office vacancy rates are at their highest level in 30 years. In the center of San Francisco, which has the highest vacancy rate among major cities, a situation called a "mass exodus" has occurred due to the decline in the flow of people and the deterioration of public safety, resulting in a series of retail stores.
Office vacancy rate is 31.6%, worst in major cities
According to a report released by a real estate company on the 12th of this month, the office vacancy rate in the United States is 18.2%, the highest level in 30 years due to the impact of telecommuting and other factors that have become established due to the corona disaster.
In San Francisco, western California, office vacancy is nearly eight times higher than 2020% in 4 before the pandemic, with the latest figure nearly eight times higher than 8.31%, the worst level of any major U.S. city.
Under these circumstances, in the center of the city, where the number of office workers has decreased, retail stores have been withdrawn one after another, and the most prestigious areas of the town and along the main streets are full of vacant stores.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the number of retail stores operating in one central area decreased from 2019 in 203 to 2023 in May 5.
On the 107th of last month, the flagship store of a large department store that has been operating in a shopping mall for 27 years also closed, and the American media has called the situation in San Francisco a "mass exodus" of retail stores.
Colin Yaskouchi, an analyst at CBRE, a major U.S. real estate services firm, points out that "office workers are not returning to work as they used to, retailers in the city centre are struggling to stay open due to a sharp drop in customers, crime is on the rise, and many other things are affecting the city."
Tech companies clustered, most employees are working from home
Explaining why San Francisco's office vacancy rate is the highest of any major U.S. city, Colin Yaschoci, an analyst at CBRE, points to the city's special circumstances with a concentration of tech companies.
"Tech companies are the ones who are most willing to let employees work remotely and send the majority of their employees to work from home, and many tech companies have developed products and services that allow them to work from home, and they see benefits in advertising 'this lifestyle is possible,'"
Yaskouchi said. He said it's unlikely that tech companies will make a big shift from remote work to coming to the office.
"Many companies are realizing that productivity, innovation and culture are being hurt by employees not coming into the office to collaborate. I think this trend will continue, but it will probably take a long time."
Deterioration of security spurs the withdrawal of retail stores
What is said to be spurring the withdrawal of retail stores is the deterioration of security and theft.
Homelessness continues to increase in California mainly due to rising rents, and according to government statistics, 30% of the entire United States is concentrated.
In the heart of San Francisco, you can see homeless people living with tents pitched on sidewalks, and people who appear to be drug addicts lying on the ground or shouting, even not too far from busy streets.
And according to an analysis released this month by the California Institute for Public Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank, the number of shoplifting and robberies in commercial establishments per capita around San Francisco has increased significantly over the past few years.
In California, state law states that stolen items worth $950 or less than Japan yen worth about 13,9000 yen are classified as misdemeanors, and some critics say that they encourage crime.
Shoplifting is a constant occurrence at a family-owned general store in San Francisco that has been around for more than 80 years, and five people a day have taken goods.
For this reason, the store has installed a large number of surveillance cameras in the store to monitor for suspicious customers.
They also place employees at the entrance of the store to casually talk to people entering the store in an attempt to curb shoplifting.
During the interview, a man who appeared to be homeless with a large bottle of liquor and a futon was seen trying to enter the store.
Shopkeeper Terry Bennett said, "Retailers only make a cent profit from $1 of a product, so if one item is stolen, you have to sell 1 times to get it back, and your heart is broken," and commented on the ongoing withdrawal of retailers, "I do business for the community, and I can't imagine changing the way I do business for fear of shoplifting."
Establishment of an amusement park aiming for a bustling recovery
The city of San Francisco set up a mobile amusement park in a plaza where drug trafficking was frequented for three days from the 24th of last month with the aim of improving the image of the center and restoring the bustle.
On the first day, Mayor Breed visited the square himself and enjoyed the attractions with local children.
In addition to utilizing these public spaces to revitalize the city center, Mayor Breed has proposed measures such as support such as incentives for new businesses, strengthening security, making buildings more flexible in their use, and transforming office buildings into residential buildings.