Macy’s may need to shutter more than the 100 stores it’s planning to close, analysts said Thursday, yet CEO Jeffrey Gennette said the retailer doesn't have plans to shutter more stores beyond what it has previously announced, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha of an earnings call with analysts.
To fight encroaching competition from off-price retailers, Macy’s plans to expand its off-price Backstage effort, citing good performance in the four full-line stores where the retailer also includes space for Backstage. Macy’s has 26 Backstage stores within Macy's stores and it has plans to add 19 more this year, CFO Karen M. Hoguet, told analysts on Thursday.
Macy's hopes to boost traffic to stores, especially ones that are performing poorly, through the effort, Hoguet said.
This week, both Jan Kniffen, CEO of the consulting firm Worldwide Enterprises, and Oliver Chen, Cowen & Co. analyst, suggested that Macy’s may have to shutter even more stores. The market "probably wants to see another 100 Macy's stores close," Kniffen told CNBC’s Squawk Box program on Thursday. "You just can't have 6, 7, 800 stores right now in America if you're a full-line department store retailer,” he said.
Chen said that is driven by market share losses from off-price retailers like TJX Cos. "[S]hare losses vs. both off-price (TJ Maxx and Ross Stores) and Amazon will continue in the foreseeable future," Chen wrote in a note cited by Business Insider.
The retail landscape is going to contain fewer department stores from many quarters, but particularly from Macy’s, Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, told Retail Dive in an email Thursday. Macy's is grappling with an expansion that has left it over-stored and ill-equipped to offer merchandise that shoppers find unique or exciting.
In 2005, department store operator Federated Department Stores (which changed its name to Macy’s in 2007) bought St. Louis-based The May Company, which itself had been amassing a series of department stores and retail chains throughout the West and Midwest, including most of the stores held by Dayton-Hudson, the parent company of a smaller discount chain called Target. In the wake of the deal, Federated crowed about its new juggernaut of “950 department stores, along with approximately 700 bridal and formalwear stores,” and Dayton-Hudson rebranded under the Target aegis.
That acquisition is the root of Macy’s troubles today, Egelanian said. The takeover of so many department stores didn't just leave Macy's with too many locations over a wide swath of the country (though that's part of the problem). Analysts told Retail Dive that Macy's also gobbled up, Pac-Man-style, department stores that were once thriving local retailers deeply embedded in their respective communities and made them merely cogs in a machine, stripping away their local identities and connections while offering shoppers a homogeneous customer experience.
“The department store industry is now under $60 billion in sales (Costco alone is double) and falling fast,” he said. “We have long expected more industry closures, particularly from Macy's, and this announcement reflects the quickening pace of decline in a dying industry.”
The closures will have “little to little or no impact on ‘A’ malls, but will be devastating for holders of debt and equity instruments associated with class B and below malls,” Egelanian added.