Several U.S. department store chains – Nordstrom, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue – have temporarily closed their doors as the nation wrestles to contain the accelerating outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Nordstrom said all 380 of its stores would close as of Tuesday for two weeks as it moves operations to its online sites. Nordstrom’s closet of brands includes its full-line stores, Nordstrom Rack, Trunk Club and Jeffrey in the United States and Canada. The Seattle-based company said it would continue to pay and provide benefits to employees during the period.
“During this unprecedented period of uncertainty, we have in place the appropriate business continuity plans, operational framework and team,” CEO Erik Nordstrom said in a statement.
Finishing 2019 “with a solid financial position and healthy balance sheet,” the executive said, “gives us the ability to weather this challenging moment in time.”
Nordstrom also pulled its earnings guidance for the year, noting that although February sales met expectations, the company experienced a "broad-based deceleration in customer demand over the past couple of weeks, particularly in markets most affected by the virus.”
Less than 24 hours after Nordstrom announced its shutdown, New York City-based Macy’s said all 839 of its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Blue Mercury brands would turn the lights off at the end of business Tuesday, with plans to stay dark through March 3.
Luxury department store chains Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue also said they would close stores temporarily.
“We will work with government and health officials to assess when we will reopen our stores and safely bring our colleagues back to work,” Jeff Gennette, Macy’s CEO, said in a statement. Like Nordstrom, the company plans to continue to operate its online sites and provide compensation and benefits to its “impacted workforce,” according to the statement.
The stores join a swelling group of national retailers that are complying with the White House’s efforts to keep consumers hunkered down at home to limit the virus' spread. President Trump issued a new set of guidelines Monday that are in place until the end of the month.
While the president's task force stressed the need to cooperate immediately, it also warned the restrictions could be extended in the future. Trump said Tuesday a national quarantine has been discussed, but he doesn’t think he will need to order it.
Big-box sellers Walmart, Target and Costco are limiting their hours but keeping stores open, stocking them as quickly as supplies roll in and using the off hours to intensely clean them. Meanwhile, speciality retailers such as Apple, Nike and REI have totally closed their stores.