Due to a steady decline in business and a recommendation to shift to online purchases for computers, UCSF will close its University stores at its Parnassus and Mission Bay campuses by the end of October.
The stores are operated by Campus Life Services (CLS) and must be self-supporting businesses that generate sufficient revenue to pay for all operational expenses, including employee salaries and overhead costs. But due to a 76 percent drop in book sales alone beginning in fiscal year 2005, shifts in customer buying habits and the continued economic downturn in the US, the stores have been running a deficit for five consecutive years.
The tough decision to close the stores follows a careful and thorough analysis and review of business operations and several attempts to create a financially viable operation. The closure will result in the layoff of 17 full-time and part-time employees.
In a joint email message to the UCSF community today (Sept. 2), Senior Vice Chancellor John Plotts and Angela Hawkins, associate vice chancellor of Campus Life, Facilities and Administrative Services, said they realize that the closures will be difficult for everyone involved.
“We acknowledge that the closure of these stores represents a significant change as the University stores have served faculty, students and staff for more than 50 years,” they said. “We are grateful for the CLS managers and staff who have worked hard over the years to foster the many relationships with our UCSF customers. We ask for your understanding and support for them during this time of transition.”
UCSF notified the unions, represented and non-represented employees about the closure on Sept. 1. UCSF will provide affected employees with a layoff package, which includes severance payments and information about resources available to them, such as career counseling and assistance with resume writing.
The closure of the Technology Store is in response to a recommendation by the Operational Excellence committee on IT procurement to shift from in-store to online purchases for departmental and personal computers. Technology purchases will move online through the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) and Bear Buy purchasing systems. For more information on these purchasing systems, please go here.
Among the actions CLS took to try to boost business, the University Store on the Parnassus campus underwent a modest remodel and the Technology Store was added in October 2008. CLS also shifted the product mix offering more general merchandise, such as clothes, gifts, cards, health and wellness products. And although customers appreciated the new products, sales continued to erode and even more so in the book department. In 2009, the stores further consolidated, moving the convenience store into the main store alongside the Technology Store. Despite these changes, the stores continue to run a deficit.
After considering various options, CLS will lease the bookstore space at the Parnassus campus to an outside vendor that could potentially sell UCSF logo products and convenience items. The estimated opening of that vendor-operated space could be early 2012.
The bookstore space at the Mission Bay campus will be returned to the campus for another use that has yet to be determined.
Textbooks and reference material have been made available through an online UCSF-specific vendor, MBS Direct.
More information about these plans will be made available during the coming weeks.