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California  + Bay Area  + Retail  | 
Pam Mendelsohn

San Francisco Retail Finds its Footing in Recent Months

San Francisco’s retail landscape is continuing a bumpy upward path as high vaccination rates in the Bay Area are building confidence among local residents, retail staff and visiting tourists, according to retail brokerage Maven Commercial. Maven’s recent lease transactions are restaurants Osito, Californios and Proposition Chicken, and retailers Lululemon, Rails and Madewell.

“Business confidence is as strong as I’ve seen it the past two years,” said Santino DeRose, Maven co-founder. “Our work has shifted dramatically in the past few months from helping landlords and tenants survive to arranging store openings, expansions and bringing along innovative new concepts. There’s still pain in the marketplace, especially with the backlog for permits and approvals.”

The vast majority of San Francisco’s retail market is comprised of local neighborhood shops and restaurants. There, property owners and tenants bolstered by recent pandemic bailout funding are stabilizing and building back business.

Several new normals are taking hold, said Pam Mendelsohn, Maven co-founder:

  • Flexible lease structures that landlords and tenants had to embrace in survival mode are showing up also in new leases but those are far from replacing traditional deals.
  • New concepts in the food and beverage world are centered around outdoor dining
  • First tier spaces in good locations (and some with infrastructure in place) are largely taken, and second tier spaces are started to be absorbed
  • The pandemic forced reliance on to-go and pick-up service is now a basic business principle for most all shops and cafes

With a dearth of reliable data coming out of the pandemic, retail landlords are still finding their economic footing by working with tenants and re-booting property marketing including large shopping centers. One of San Francisco’s largest, the Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre near Union Square, announced new shops including the city’s latest Shake Shack, and rolled out a series of events and special attractions such as Market Street Makers, a community marketplace for local emerging and established artisan brands. Perhaps its most interesting space, the restaurants under its historic Tiffany-glass dome, is garnering interest from entrepreneurial food concepts, according to Maven.

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Santino DeRose

About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown has decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing management with organizations including Coldwell Banker Residential, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus & Millichap, NAIOP, SIOR and ALM. In those positions, she worked in conjunction with chief executive officers and chief marketing officers to create corporate messaging, cohesive branding standards, strategic marketing plans and thought pieces. Brown is a frequent speaker at industry events and an editing adjunct professor for an online course. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

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