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Macy’s to close 100 more stores; local effect not yet known

Macy’s announced Thursday that it will close 100 stores around the country, and officials at local stores said they do not expect to be closed but have not been told of the company’s plans.

The Cincinnati-based retailer has not yet announced which stores will close because a list of affected properties has not yet been finalized, said a representative in the Macy’s public relations office. The representative, who is not authorized to speak on the record, said a list will be released “at a later date.” She declined to say when the list might be released.

The Walden Galleria said flatly that its store will not close. Boulevard Mall general manager Brian Calvert said he does not believe its Macy’s store nor its Macy’s Men’s store will end up on the list of stores slated to close.

“There’s no indication at this point that they’re planning to close this location,” he said. “In fact, my understanding is that they’re making improvements to the space.”

The latest round of sweeping store closures will trim about 15 percent of Macy’s brick-and-mortar portfolio, Macy’s said Thursday. The affected stores are expected to close early next year. It’s not clear how many employees may be affected.

The Washington Post reported that Macy’s said it is still finalizing which stores it would shutter, and thus has not yet determined exactly how many jobs will be slashed. The retailer said it does not plan to pull entirely out of any of the top markets where it operates stores, but it would look to close stores that are in weak locations.

News of the closures boosted Macy’s shares by 15 percent. But shares still were down 42 percent compared to last year. The stores account for about 4 percent of its annual revenue.

The closures are a sign of the times, as retailers learn how to compete and adjust their business models in the age of e-commerce.

Macy’s said its plan in trimming brick-and-mortar stores is to focus on digital sales and pare underperforming locations. More retailers are steering away from regional shopping centers and minimizing their physical presence. The trend is to leave just one store in a market – in a “power center” such as Walden Galleria, then focus on online sales.

If that’s the plan for the Macy’s store at Boulevard Mall, customer Conni Burgess of North Tonawanda was not pleased. She said she doesn’t like Walden Galleria and won’t go to the Macy’s there because she feels the mall is too big.

“They would lose my business,” she said. “I would shop at Bon-Ton.”

Lost anchors pose a problem for already-struggling enclosed shopping malls. As large department stores empty, there are fewer and fewer large-footprint retail concepts to take their place.

Macy’s closed three local stores during its last wave of closures in January. It shuttered locations at the Eastern Hills and McKinley malls, as well as another Macy’s Home store at McKinley.

The closures followed a disappointing holiday sales season in December and were part of a larger restructuring round. A total of 40 underperforming stores with 4,500 jobs were shuttered around the country. About 155 jobs were eliminated locally.

All of the closed stores are still vacant. Eastern Hills is planning to redevelop the former Macy’s rather than try to fill it.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com

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