losing streak continued through the brutal holiday season.
The department store retailer said on Wednesday that comparable sales fell 5.2% in November and December, signaling its lingering inability to get its business back on track after reporting three straight quarters of decline earlier in 2015. That sharp drop led the company to announce it was eliminating thousands of jobs at its stores and among its management ranks.
Macy’s blamed the decline on the unseasonably warm fall and early winter for the big sales drop in the key Christmas period. The company said about 4 percentage points of the drop in comparable sales, which include online sales and sales at stores open at least a tear, were linked to weak sales of cold weather items like coats, sweaters, gloves and boots.
And the retailer, whose stores in Manhattan and San Francisco are big tourist draws, said international shoppers continued to stay away. But the company has also suffered as shoppers shift spending away from fashion and apparel to things like home improvement, and discount chains like T.J. Maxx steal away market share.
The poor performance is likely to add to the heat CEO Terry Lundgren is feeling from activist investors eager to see Macy’s shares rise again after falling by nearly half in 2015. Lundgren in November said Macy’s had decided against creating a real estate investment trust to leverage the value of stores (the Manhattan flagship is worth several billion dollars, according to several estimates), a move advocated by the activists.
But on Wednesday, in a change, Macy’s said it had hired Eastdil Secured, a real estate investment bank, to look at joint ventures to take advantage of its real estate, including its mall stores and flagship stores like Herald Square.
In another move aimed at mollifying those investors, Macy’s announced a cost-cutting program to save $400 million a year. That includes cutting 3,000 jobs at stores, and the departure of 165 executives. (Many of the people holding those jobs will be placed elsewhere in the company.) What’s more, Macy’s will slash 600 back-office jobs.
Last year, Macy’s said it would close 40 stores and on Wednesday announced which ones were on the list, which you can find here.