Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo announced Friday — via a filing with the state employment department — that it is closing its nine-year-old Union Square location at 111 Powell Street for good and laying off all 69 employees.
The parent company of Uniqlo, Fast Retailing Co., has not publicly commented on the closure, but according to the filing obtained by the SF Business Times, the store is set to close by April 2. Update: The company has updated its website to show the store is closing March 21.
Uniqlo arrived in San Francisco with a splash in 2012, over a decade after it had become wildly popular in Japan. The 29,000-square-foot store was the first for the brand on the West Coast, and considered a flagship, and it set up shop on the same strip with low-cost competitors H&M, Desigual, and The Gap.
The closure of the Union Square store comes at the same time that Uniqlo is closing its large Manhattan flagship store, and not long after it closed a large flagship in Seoul — signaling that the company may be shifting to a smaller-store strategy.
According to the Business Times, Uniqlo's Stonestown Galleria location will be staying put, and the company also still has a significant Bay Area presence with stores in Milipitas, Emeryville, Santa Clara, Concord, and Hillsdale.
This is just more bad news for the retail sphere in Union Square, where a reported 37 percent of retail space is now vacant. Desigual closed up shop on Powell Street four years ago, The Gap announced the closure of its Union Square flagship (along with two other SF stores) in August 2020, and H&M announced the closure of its massive Powell Street location in November 2020.
Regarding Uniqlo's decision, retail broker Kazuko Morgan, who represents Uniqlo, tells the Business Times, "To me it's a bit surprising because I feel like the worst is behind us if you've made it this long and through the last year."