Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC on Tuesday that the company is preparing for a wide range of scenarios during the critical holiday shopping season, citing the uncertain nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Macy's expects its physical department stores to offer a leg up over some of its competition, Gennette said in an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer.
"We're all kind of looking at, 'hey, how's the traffic going to be between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah?'" he said on "Mad Money." "We've all got A, B, C — we call it the 2020 options because whatever comes our way, we have to have flexibility."
Gennette, who has been Macy's CEO since March 2017, said he anticipates the holiday shopping season to start earlier than normal. He suggested the spirit of giving likely takes on a heightened role this year.
"More than ever, customers want to have a great gift that they either put under the tree or they give in a treasured box," he said. "And so to make we have that ready for customers no matter when they want to shop, we're pulling the calendar to start addressing those great values in the beginning of November."
And while the pandemic has brought forth an acceleration of online shopping trends, Gennette said he believes Macy's brick-and-mortar locations can be used to its benefit compared to e-commerce rivals, offering an added layer of flexibility.
"After Thanksgiving, being an omni-channel retailer, we're going to have a great advantage to be able to deliver it the day before Christmas by same-day delivery or them coming to a store through the safety of curbside, being able to pick up that great value," he said.
Gennette also touted the gains Macy's has made in its e-commerce presence. In its earnings report earlier this month, the company said digital sales were up 53% compared to the same quarter a year ago. It also said it landed 4 million new online customers.
"They're younger, they're more diverse, and we've learned lots from them," Gennette said of the first-time digital shoppers, adding the task at hand is now to convert them into consistent customers. "We're working through personalization. We've got loyalty programs that give them tender neutral options to come into our brand. ... We've added categories based on what they asked for."
"They want more delivery options. They want speed of delivery so we added DoorDash for basically same-day delivery in 500 of our stores, so we're really interested in making sure these become core Macy's and Bloomingdale's shoppers," he added.
Shares of Macy's closed down 0.6% Tuesday to $6.27 apiece. The stock, after trading at a 52-week high of $18.57 on Jan. 8, is down 63% year to date. It had rallied off its coronavirus-driven low of $4.38 on April 2 to more than $9 per share in early June.