Safeway and Albertsons announce closing of 2 Seattle stores, unrelated to head tax

SEATTLE -- Safeway and Albertsons announced Monday that it's closing two Seattle stores -- its Greenwood Safeway and Aurora Albertsons -- by June 16.

"Despite the best efforts of the store teams, we have been unable to re-position these stores to be profitable, and following an extensive review, we have made the difficult decision to close the stores and sell the property," a news release said.

Safeway released its news release about the two Seattle stores closing shortly after the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance to levy a tax on big businesses of $275 per employee a year -- but Safeway said the new head tax was not the reason.

"The stores would still be closing even if there was not a head tax," spokesperson Sara Osborne told Q13 News, "but we are increasingly concerned about the compounding effect of numerous regulations and taxes like these that have drastically increased operating expenses for low-margin businesses like ours.

"The timing on our announcement is also coincidence," she said. "Today happened to be the day of the scheduled closing for the purchase by the property buyers."

In the news release, Safeway/Albertsons said, "As a result of the implementation of a series of regulations in just the past three years, our city stores have experienced over a 10% increase in operating expenses. Due to the fact that we are a mainstream grocer with the primary purpose of holding down prices to provide value to customers in all of our locations, we are not able to adjust to additional expenses simply by increasing our prices.

"As you can imagine, this delicate balance has caused us to carefully review the long-term viability of each location in Seattle, and we unfortunately came to the conclusion that the Greenwood Safeway and Aurora Albertsons do not have an opportunity to be profitable now or in the future."