In April 2023, Whole Foods announced the temporary closure of a location in downtown San Francisco, reportedly because of "deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime" in the vicinity. The company said it may reopen "[i]f we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store." Contrary to what was claimed in social media posts, "hostile transgender customers" was not cited as a reason for the closure.
On April 10, 2023, claims spread on social media that Whole Foods was leaving San Francisco due to "high theft" and "hostile transgender customers." The claims came after news broke that a flagship store in downtown San Francisco was temporarily closing.
"BREAKING: San Francisco leaders are expressing concern that Whole Foods' exit from the city as a result of 'high theft' and 'hostile transgender customers' will make it extremely difficult for residents to steal healthy food," a Twitter user wrote. The tweet was linked to an article from the San Francisco Standard, an independent news publication based in the city, which used neither of those quoted phrases in its report.
BREAKING: San Francisco leaders are expressing concern that Whole Foods' exit from the city as a result of 'high theft' and 'hostile transgender customers' will make it extremely difficult for residents to steal healthy food. https://t.co/AhpTnwmMkE
— @amuse (@amuse) April 10, 2023
The same claim, quoting the same phrases, later spread on other social media platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook. We reached out to Whole Foods for comment, and will update this fact check if we hear back.
The San Francisco Standard reported that the Whole Foods Market at Eighth and Market streets in downtown San Francisco was closing temporarily, not permanently. At the time of this writing, eight San Francisco stores were listed in Whole Foods' website.
The publication also wrote that "deteriorating street conditions around drug use," as well as "crime near the grocery store," were the cited reasons for its temporary closure.
There was no mention of "hostile transgender customers" in the Standard article, or in any other news coverage of the store closure. While "high theft" was cited as a reason the store cut its hours in October 2022, it wasn't cited as a reason for the temporary closure in April 2023.
In a thread beneath the post that contained the false claim about transgender customers, the originating Twitter account subsequently added the apparent disclaimer, "Sometimes I like to make jokes." It also claimed that the use of single quote marks in the original post was intended to signal irony, not to indicate that the words literally appeared in the linked news article.
Regardless, no such disclaimers appeared in the original tweet. The account, which categorizes itself as a "media & news company," does not display a satire label per se in its profile. However, it does say, "Love satire and threads."