Best not tell Macy’s (M) CEO Jeff Gennette his 700-plus clothing, accessories and perfume stores are any less important during COVID-19 than a Walmart selling essential milk, bread, hand sanitizer and Clorox disinfecting wipes to quarantined households.
He may not take too kindly to the mere suggestion.
“We definitely believe that we can operate through COVID and keep every one of our stores open. And I think we've clearly shown that we know how to keep our colleagues and our customers safe, ” Gennette told Wall Street analysts on a Thursday earnings call. “And so that's what we're clearly pushing through the NRF [National Retail Federation] and RILA [Retail Industry Leaders Association] working with all of our municipal leaders as well, as governors. We don't believe that designation of essential and non-essential should play in retail, we believe you need to have a safe environment or not, we should be held accountable to health and safety standards. And we stand by those. And based on how we performed and based on how our customers have that signal to us. We're doing a great job of that. ”
Among the many retailers labeled as non-essential by lawmakers, Macy’s stores were shuttered from March 18 through May 4 as states mandated shelter-in-place measures at the height of the pandemic this year. Macy’s stores began to reopen in early May, with most being back in operation by the beginning of July. But with coronavirus infections back on the rise nationwide and states implementing new restrictions on indoor dining, schools and general activity, all eyes are on malls and retail stores such as Macy’s and if they will be forced to shut down again.
Gennette told analysts he doesn’t anticipate any new store closures.
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