Retail investors can finally release that breath they've been holding in. Well, some of it at least.
Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren on Thursday delivered a long-awaited jolt to Wall Street, when he admitted the United States has too much square footage dedicated to retail. The company announced plans to shutter 100 of its 728 traditional Macy's stores — a strategy bearish investors have been begging the company to pursue for more than a year.
By Lundgren's own admission, industrywide there is 7.3 square feet of retail space per capita in the United States. That compares with roughly 1.3 square feet in the U.K. and 1.7 square feet in France.
This saturation has caused retailers to invest too little in many of their stores, particularly the ones that aren't delivering adequate returns. It's also tied up capital that could have been put toward better uses, such as investing in e-commerce. Meanwhile, it's dented their profitability.
Lundgren likewise applauded vendors Coach and Michael Kors for taking control of their brands, telling CNBC that they, too, need to make adjustments regarding their distribution. Both labels said earlier this week that they would trim the amount of merchandise they sell at department stores, saying these shops' excessive discounts are hurting their brands.
Macy's shares rocketed higher, after these announcements and better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results. Shares of competitors including Kohl's, which likewise topped analysts' forecasts for the quarter, also shot higher.
"Although this is partly a reaction to being in a tough competitive position within the landscape, they are being more offensive than most, and this is the right move," Citi analyst Paul Lejuez told investors. "It is not only good for Macy's but also for the industry."