Department store announces 68 closures by mid-2017

LIHUE — For Jessica Stark, if Macy’s at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center closed, there would be fewer options on Kauai.

“There’s not a lot of clothing stores,” she said.

When it comes to shopping at Macy’s, Stark and her friends Aaron Fisher and Mikela Puit go the store when they’re looking for specific items. Puit likes Macy’s for its junior’s section.

“Macy’s has a good selection,” the Kapaa High School student said.

The Kauai location is not on the list of 68 Macy’s stores set to close by mid-2017, said Wade Lord, general manager of the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

“We don’t have any information that the store here is on any current or future list for closing,” Lord said. “Macy’s is going through a contraction nationally where its shedding its nonprofitable locations. Our location had done very well for many, many years.”

Macy’s says it is eliminating more than 10,000 jobs and plans to move forward with 68 store closures after a disappointing holiday shopping season. The department store chain also lowered its full-year earnings forecast.

The retailer said Wednesday that sales at its established stores fell 2.1 percent in November and December compared to the same period last year. Macy’s Inc. pointed to changing consumer behavior and said its performance reflects the challenges that are facing much of the retail industry.

Macy’s said the 68 store closures, which span the nation, are part of the 100 closings it announced in August. Of the 68, three were closed by the middle of 2016, 63 will close in the spring and two will be closed by the middle of 2017. A significant part of Macy’s restructuring includes focusing on strategic priorities, improving organizational agility and reducing expense, according to a press release.

Longtime CEO Terry Lundgren, who is stepping down early this year and will be succeeded by Macy’s President Jeff Gennette, said in a statement the company is closing stores that are “unproductive or are no longer robust shopping destinations” as well as selling those with highly valued real estate.

Macy’s has seen sales growth slow as it and other traditional department store chains face competition from online and off-price rivals. It has tried new ways to attract shoppers, such as by offering more exclusive products, designating areas featuring “smart watches” and launching an Apple shop at its flagship New York store in Herald Square.

The company said Wednesday it plans to invest some of its savings in growing its digital business.

While December numbers for the local Macy’s won’t be available until late January, conversations with store and district managers have been positive, Lord said.

“The managers said we did very well during the holiday season,” he said.

Because the Kauai Macy’s is profitable, it’s different from Sports Authority, which filed for bankruptcy last year and announced it was closing all of its stores — including the 43,000 square-foot store at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center that opened in 2014.

Macy’s has long been an anchor tenant at the shopping center.

Lord credits the continued profitability of Macy’s at Kukui Grove to brand loyalty.

“Part of it has to do with the island’s small nature and being isolated,” he said.

The store employs about 100 people. It has been a constant in the Kauai retail world for years, popular for its designer clothes, the latest fashions and trendy accessories. It often features sales that offer anywhere from 15 to 50 percent off that attract budget-conscious consumers.

Brigitte Theriault shops at Macy’s when she needs clothes and nice shoes.

“It’s a good store, it’s small and clean,” she said.

It’s also the only place on the island that has a full MAC Cosmetic counter, Stark said.

If the Macy’s on Kauai closed, most of her shopping would be done virtually, she added.

“I’d be shopping online,” Stark said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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