Wawa on Thursday announced it is closing two stores in Center City, citing “continued safety and security challenges.”
The stores at 12th and Market Streets and 19th and Market will be shut down “over the next few weeks,” Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce said in a statement.
“Despite reducing hours and investing in additional operational measures, continued safety and security challenges and business factors have made it increasingly difficult to remain open in these two locations,” Bruce said.
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The “difficult decision” was made after careful deliberation and significant efforts to overcome “external operating challenges,” Bruce said.
Employees at the two stores will be offered continued employment with Wawa, she said.
“These two closures do not necessarily impact or limit potential for future stores in Philadelphia County. We continue to be focused on doing everything we can to monitor and work with local authorities to address challenges impacting operations in any other stores,” Bruce said.
Earlier in the week, Philadelphia Councilmember Mike Driscoll said a senior Wawa representative told him the company was considering excluding Philadelphia from its expansion plans because of crime concerns, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. Driscoll said he was told this a day after about 100 juveniles ransacked a Wawa in Mayfair, which is located in his district.
Kevin Lessard, spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney, said in an emailed statement Thursday evening: “We greatly value the investments that Wawa has made over the years in Philadelphia and are particularly proud of their close partnership on various civic pride initiatives.”
Lessard added that officials had communicated with Wawa “regarding the challenges that they have faced, specifically at certain locations.”
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Police statistics based on crime reports show that in the last two years, there were 42 incidents around the Wawa at 19th and Market. Thirty-four of those were theft reports.
The Wawa at 12th and Market had 19 reported incidents, including 15 thefts.
The location in Philadelphia with the most incidents, according to police numbers for the last two years, was the Wawa at 33 S. 16th St., with 156. All but five were reported thefts.
Across the 40 stores in Philadelphia, the total number of reported thefts doubled in the last two years, from 311 between September 2020 and September 2021, to 687 between September 2021 and September 2022.
Robberies and aggravated assaults accounted for a very small fraction of total crimes around the stores.
The lockdowns and restrictions that took effect with the start of the pandemic in 2020 sent businesses in the city reeling.
Some normality returned this year, with the Center City District reporting that the numbers of shoppers and diners were nearly comparable to pre-pandemic levels.
However, many people still work from home rather than commute to offices in the city.
Wawa has closed other Center City stores in recent years, including at Broad and Walnut Streets in 2020, and at 13th and Chestnut Streets and at Ninth and South Streets last year. Other stores in Philadelphia have cut down on the hours they are open.
In July, Starbucks permanently closed a store at 10th and Chestnut Streets due to safety concerns.
Bruce on Thursday reiterated the company’s overall commitment to Philadelphia.
“We are very sorry we can’t be there for our friends and neighbors at these two locations [that are closing], but we continue to serve the community from our other nearby stores and our commitment to the greater region remains strong,” Bruce said.
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