Macy’s sales plunge 20% as COVID-19 threatens holiday season

Macy’s comparable sales plummeted more than 20 percent in the last three months amid a surge in coronavirus cases that could hamstring the holiday season, the retailer said Thursday.

The department store giant expects sales to remain about that far below 2019’s levels for the second half of the year even though they’ve recovered since the virus forced its stores to close in the spring.

Macy’s executives say they’re keeping a close eye on the record-setting spike in COVID-19 cases that’s sweeping the nation ahead of Black Friday and the rest of the holiday shopping season. The US has reported more than 100,000 new infections a day for about two weeks straight, leading to renewed lockdown measures in some states.

“COVID is surging again across the country, and that continues to impede our recovery and international tourism and urban areas,” Adrian Mitchell, Macy’s chief financial officer, said on a Thursday conference call with investors.

But Macy’s bosses said they’re optimistic about posting strong holiday results after finishing the third quarter with better sales than they expected a few months ago.

To do that, the company has made its holiday sales events longer and put a greater emphasis on online shopping to limit the strain on its brick-and-mortar stores, where it’s implemented safety measures to protect shoppers and staff from the virus, CEO Jeff Gennette said.

“Like all of 2020, we know unexpected challenges and opportunities will come our way and our team is prepared to tackle them,” Gennette said on the earnings call.

Macy’s raked in net sales of about $4 billion during the quarter, a significant drop from $5.2 billion a year ago but slightly better than Wall Street’s estimates of about $3.9 billion. The performance was helped by a 27 percent year-over-year jump in digital sales.

The company — which owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury as well as its namesake chain — posted an adjusted net loss of $60 million, or 19 cents a share, for the quarter, also better the 79 cents-per-share loss that analysts expected.

Macy’s shares were up about 0.3 percent at $9.02 as of 11:07 a.m. Thursday after falling as much as 10 percent in early trading.

With Post wires

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