Macy’s plans to reopen 68 stores on Monday in states that have loosened stay-at-home restrictions, joining a handful of other retailers such as Five Below, which already opened 117 stores this week, and Chico’s in slowly bring back its brick-and-mortar presence.
The 68 Macy’s stores will open in Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee with reduced hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nearly 25 percent are located in some of the 49 malls and outlet centers that Simon Property Group Inc., the country’s largest mall operator, is planning to reopen this weekend.
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said he expects to have all of the company’s roughly 775 stores reopened in six weeks, if infection rates taper off as projected and state and local governments allow it. All Macy’s stores have been shuttered since March 18, with the company having furloughed the majority of its 130,000 workers.
Before they show up for work, Macy’s employees will be required to complete a wellness checklist that asks them to take their temperature and whether they have had any symptoms in the past 24 hours.
A second wave of roughly 50 stores is scheduled to reopen May 11. The department store, which also owns the Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury chains, has been offering curbside pickup at approximately 20 Macy’s stores for the past week.
Gennette said that he expects the stores that come back first to do less than a fifth of their normal sales volume at first.
Department stores were already experiencing declines in foot traffic as more shopping shifted online in the years leading up to the health crisis, so the move feels like an ambitious one for a retailer that needs the cash flow. Macy’s is looking to raise up to $5 billion in debt in an effort to pay back after drawing down the entire $1.5 billion credit line that it had available. The retailer reportedly is said to be using its inventory as collateral for $3 billion and its real estate assets for another $1 billion to $2 billion.
Shoppers will have to expect a different in-store experience than they are used to as physical locations open back up. For example, beauty departments will offer “no-touch” consultations and demonstrations with the option to test products on a piece of paper with a diagram of a face. For example, plexiglass will be installed at cash registers, and the keypads will be wiped after each use. Signs throughout the store will instruct shoppers to stay six feet apart in adherence to social distancing guidelines.
And only a select few fitting rooms will be open at a given time. They will be sanitized frequently, and employees will hold items that have been tried on for 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor. The same 24-hour hold will be applied to returned goods.