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San Francisco Leaders Question Reasons Behind Latest Walgreens Store Closures

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Mayor London Breed on Wednesday was pushing back against the idea that rampant retail theft was the only reason behind Walgreens' recent decision to close five more stores across San Francisco.

On Tuesday, the retail chain announced it would be closing the stores.

The San Francisco locations closing next month include stores at 2550 Ocean Ave., 4645 Mission St., 745 Clement St., 300 Gough St., and 3400 Cesar Chavez St.

"Due to ongoing organized retail crime, we have made the difficult decision to close five stores across San Francisco," Walgreens said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Mayor Breed refuted that claim, suggesting there were additional reasons behind the closures.

"They are saying that's the primary reason, but I also think when a place is not generating revenue, and when they're saturated -- SF has a lot of Walgreens locations all over the city -- so I do think that there are other factors that come into play," said Breed.

Shortly after the mayor spoke, Supervisor Dean Preston fired off a series of tweets claiming the closures are part of a previously-announced consolidation plan.

"So is Walgreens closing stores because of theft or because of a pre-existing business plan to cut costs and increase profits by consolidating stores and shifting customers to online purchases?" Preston asked.

But a Walgreens spokesperson told KPIX 5 Wednesday night that those cuts were already completed before the new San Francisco closures were announced.

The five additional stores closing next month bring the total of Walgreens locations closing in San Francisco this year to 22.

Last month, Breed announced a series of new initiatives that would address retail thefts, including among others, expanding the Police Department's Organized Retail Crime Unit and recruiting more retired police officers to patrol neighborhoods.

Back in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an aggressive enforcement plan targeting a stunning surge in brazen retail thefts by organized gangs.

With the five locations closing next month, Walgreens said each store will automatically transfer prescriptions to another nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and patients will get a notice in the mail. Additionally, the company said it will place employees at the closing locations at other nearby locations.

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