Pandemic could push Macy's to losses exceeding $1 billion

FILE - In this March 30, 2020 file photo, bicyclists pass in front of a closed Macy's department store in Santa Ana, Calif. Macy’s warned Thursday, May 21 that it could lose more than a $1 billion during its first quarter after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed retail operations worldwide.

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s is warning that it could lose more than a $1 billion during its first fiscal quarter after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed retail operations nationwide.

Sales, the New York department store said in a preliminary report Thursday, could plummet to around $3 billion, down 45% from the $5.5 billion in sales booked just a year ago.

The company said it would likely swing to a quarterly loss of between $905,000 and $1.1 billion.

Macy's had a profit of $203 million in last year's first quarter, which ends on May 2.

Macy's closed all stores in mid-March and furloughed a majority of its workers. It began to reopen its stores early this month and about 190 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations were operating in one form or another as of this week. Curbside pickup is what is available at many stores.

It expects another 80 Macy’s stores to open for Memorial Day weekend and most of its stores, including its flagship stores in Manhattan, to open in mid-June.

CEO Jeff Gennette said customer demand has been moderately higher than anticipated in the two weeks since the company began reopening stores. Earlier this month, Gennette said that he expected the reopened stores would generate less than 20% of their typical activity.

“We are closely watching consumer behavior as we reopen more stores, and we remain flexible as we navigate this crisis," said Gennette. “We expect business to recover gradually."

Department stores like Macy's were struggling before the spread of COVID-19, and the pandemic has made the situation much more dire.

Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores and J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy protection this month and more are expected to go down that road in coming months.

Macy's has acknowledged that it will emerge from the pandemic a smaller company. It confirmed Thursday that it is searching for additional financing so that it can continue operations.

The company will release more details about its quarterly performance early next month.

Kohl's said this week that sales had slumped more than 40% and it lost money in its first quarter.

Shares of Macy Inc., which have slumped about 70% this year, are essentially flat before the opening bell Thursday.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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