Macy’s sees a big divide between suburban, urban reaction to Covid delta

Macy’s said Thursday that consumers across the country do shopping differently depending on where they live and their attitudes toward Covid.

During the retailer’s last fiscal quarter, he said, some people weren’t even comfortable entering a store, especially those in urban areas like New York City.

“There’s definitely different psychology with suburban and urban customers now,” CEO Jeff Gennette said during a earnings conference call.

Many Macy’s stores on the outskirts are lending themselves ahead of 2019 levels, he explained, as consumers in these areas feel more comfortable with more space to shop.

A person looks in a large Macy’s Inc. store. near Union Square in San Francisco, California, United States, on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The city-based businesses of society remain the most challenged, as international tourism has yet to return and people are more cautious about getting stuck in crowded spaces. Gennette cited Macy’s teaching location in Herald Square in Manhattan as an example of a store that hasn’t even seen visitors return to pre-pandemic levels.

The more densely populated metro areas are recovering more as people return to work, Gennette adds. But plans to return to the office have changed because of the widespread delta variant, he warned.

“There are always bags in the country where the activity of the stores … is off, and it’s not correlated with the vaccination rate, it’s really the psychology of those customers,” the CEO said.

New Covid-19 cases in the United States are once again rising at the fastest pace since the winter wave. The number of cases has been particularly severe in southern states such as Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, where vaccination rates are low.

Macy’s stock closed nearly 20% Thursday, after the department store chain increased its annual sales and profit forecasts on optimistic second-quarter results.

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