Macy’s CEO sees strong start to Holidays, helped by coat sales

Macy’s Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette says the holiday season is off to a strong start, helped by a surge in outerwear sales.

  • Colder weather has descended on much of the eastern U.S.
  • Department-store chain is trying to pull out of sales slump

The retailer had sold 200000 coats by 7 a.m. on Friday morning, Gennette said in an interview with Emma Chandra on Bloomberg Television. And he expects to ring up a million coats, sweaters and fleeces by the end of the long weekend.

The outlook suggests that Macy’s and other retailers are getting help from Mother Nature this year. Chilly weather hit much of the eastern U.S. this week, creating prime conditions for apparel shopping.

Macy’s and other department stores hope this holiday season marks an inflection point in their comeback efforts. The industry has suffered from same-store sales declines, sluggish foot traffic and the rise of Inc.

Even facing challenges, Gennette sees an advantage in being a brick-and-mortar retailer during the holidays. “Customers today want to go to a store — the sights, the smells, the sounds,” he said. “How you can create that in a department store is a unique opportunity that we have.”

Macy’s shares gained 2.1 % to USD 21.07 on Friday. But they remain down more than 40 % this year.

Revamping Real Estate

Macy’s downturn prompted the company to target 100 of its locations for closure. Last year, it also announced that it would team up with Brookfield Asset Management to redevelop 50 stores.

The store closings have left Macy’s real estate portfolio in stronger shape, Gennette said. The company has 250 stores in “premium” malls, which will remain attractive, he said.

Its Manhattan location in Herald Square, touted as the world’s largest store, has been valued at as much as USD 4 billion. Gennette called it testing ground for new concepts.

More than 16000 people were lined up at the store before it opened. “This is a great laboratory for us,” he said.