- The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is opening back up to spectators this year, the retailer and New York City said in a press release.
- In 2020, the parade was only viewable on television due to concerns around the COVID-19 surge in the fall.
- For the upcoming parade, all staff and volunteer participants must be vaccinated and masked, and social distancing protocols will be in place. Macy's will also reduce the number of participants by 10% to 20%.
In its 95th year this year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is perhaps the biggest day of the year for the department store chain's brand. In all those years but one — 2020 — the parade was open to the public in New York City, home to the retailer's flagship.
While much of the economy has opened back up thanks to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the delta variant of the disease has cast uncertainty over what many hoped would be a return to some sort of normalcy. Macy's said it worked closely with the city and state governments to "safely produce the annual Thanksgiving Day celebration" and ensure it was up to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year Macy's also opened its Fourth of July fireworks display to a live audience.
"We applaud Macy's work to creatively continue this beloved tradition last year and look forward to welcoming back Parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the release.
Many details of this year's parade have yet to be announced, but much of the standard fare is set to be there, including the character balloons, parade floats, marching bands, musical performances and celebrity appearances. Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette hinted on a call with analysts that the Toys R Us brand would have some showing at the parade, after the retailer announced a partnership to roll out 400 shop-in-shops under the Toys R Us brand in 2022.
The parade originally launched in 1924. That first year it consisted of "a two block-long collection of Macy's colleagues dressed in whimsical clown outfits, playing instruments and adorning floats," as the company described it last year.
The parade is a crucial marketing vehicle for Macy's as it gears up for the fourth quarter and holiday shopping season. After taking a deep financial hit last year, when it closed its stores to customers for weeks and took on new debt to stay afloat, Macy's has gone a long way toward digging itself out of the hole created by the pandemic.
The retailer's Q2 sales were up 58.7% year over year to $5.6 billion, and also just above 2019 levels. The company swung to a profit of $345 million after posting a $431 million net loss in Q2 last year.