Macy's CEO: Sales Tracking Ahead of Last Year

Standing against the backdrop of Macy's flagship store in New York City's Herald Square, President and CEO Terry Lundgren sounded optimistic about recent sales trends.

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"I think this year we have a lot more confidence based on the momentum that has built up," Lundgren said in an interview with CNBC.

So far it looks like retailers this holiday season are seeing increased store traffic, but there are some complaints coming from shoppers that discounts aren't as deep as they were last year.

Lundgren told CNBC that the level of promotions at Macy's

are "about the same" as last year. But the company feels better about how it's operating its business because there has been more time to think about what the big retail sales trends are and pick the right merchandise.

"We were not concerned about inventory," he said. "We had the right level of inventory, whereas a year ago, we were still wondering 'how do you want to come out of this season?'"

Also, last year's need to keep inventories tight resulted in some sales being lost, according to Lundgren.

"I think we were selling out of things too quickly," he said. "Many key items were sold out in December."

Lundgren expects there will be enough inventory this year. Macy's inventory was boosted about 1 percent to 2 percent this year, but sales have been running "between 4 or 5 percent" above last year, he said. All told, Macy's is expecting to see a 3 percent or 4 percent increase in sales in its final quarter of this year, he said.

Macy's also increased its seasonal hiring this year and Lundgren said he hopes to retain about 1,000 of the additional workers it added for the season.

If Macy's is able to do that, and other retailers do the same, that could "bode well" for the economy in the beginning of next year, Lundgren said.

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