Retail

Macy's same-store sales drop more than 20%, as Covid threatens holidays

Key Points
  • Macy's reported a same-store sales decline of more than 20%, as consumers cut back their spending on clothes and accessories at department stores during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Macy's net sales for the third quarter fell to $3.99 billion from $5.17 billion a year earlier.
  • Digital sales grew 27%, but those gains weren't enough to offset losses at its stores.
People walk past a Macy's store in a Manhattan shopping district on August 12, 2020 in New York City. Following a massive drop in tourism due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a work culture that increasingly keeps people at home, New York City is seeing a large exodus of chain stores and other retail businesses. Many of these businesses were struggling before the Covid outbreak due to the growing trend of online shopping and the situation has only worsened since. According to the commercial real estate services firm CBRE, average asking rents along 16 major retail areas in Manhattan have declined for the eleventh consecutive quarter.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Macy's on Thursday reported a quarterly same-store sales decline of more than 20%, as consumers cut back their spending on clothes and accessories at America's department stores during the coronavirus pandemic.

The results, which come a week ahead of key Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events, signal a rocky holiday season for Macy's. The retailer has been closing unprofitable stores and investing more in its off-price business in a bid to boost sales. But it faces tougher competition from the likes of Target and Walmart, as they expand their apparel and beauty offerings, and consumers increasingly shift their spending away from the mall.

Macy's also potentially faces additional, temporary store closures because of the pandemic. It currently has a location closed in El Paso, Texas, due to rising Covid-19 cases there.

"Covid is surging again across the country," CEO Jeff Gennette said during a post-earnings call with analysts. "And that continues to impede our recovery."

Macy's said it expects its same-store sales of owned and licensed stores to decline by a low- to mid-20s percentage during the fall.

Its shares were down less than 1% in early trading.

Here's how the retailer did during its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 31 compared with what analysts were expecting, based on Refinitiv data:

  • Earnings per share: a loss of 19 cents, adjusted, vs. a loss of 79 cents expected
  • Revenue: $3.99 billion vs. $3.86 billion expected

Macy's reported a net loss of $91 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with net income of $2 million, or a penny per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time charges, Macy's lost 19 cents per share, while analysts were calling for a loss of 79 cents per share.

Net sales fell to $3.99 billion from $5.17 billion a year earlier. The latest quarterly results were ahead of analysts' estimates of $3.86 billion.

Same-store sales on an owned plus licensed basis were down 20.2%, while analysts had been calling for a 23.3% decline.

Digital sales grew 27%, but those gains weren't enough to offset losses at its stores. That also marked a deceleration from the second quarter, when e-commerce sales surged more than 50%.

"We're going to continue to grow very robustly [online], with double-digit growth," Gennette said in a phone interview. "But I do expect that it continues to taper off, as our stores come online and get stronger."

Gennette also said although customers have shifted to buying more casual apparel to wear around the house during the pandemic, Macy's home furnishings, jewelry and fragrance divisions generated double-digit sales growth compared with a year earlier.

Through the pandemic, many retailers have been forced to make cost cuts to stay afloat. In June, Macy's laid off 3,900 corporate workers, or roughly 3% of its overall workforce.

As of Wednesday's market close, Macy's shares were down about 47% this year, giving the company a market cap of $2.8 billion.

Find the full earnings press release from Macy's here.

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