Macy’s cuts store hours temporarily as Covid cases spike and retailers face new staffing challenges

Macy’s cuts store hours temporarily as Covid cases spike and retailers face new staffing challenges

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Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square in New York, Dec. 23, 2021.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Macy’s is shortening store hours for the rest of the month as coronavirus cases spike in the United States and retailers grapple with staffing shortages.

From Monday to Thursday, Macy’s department store hours systemwide will be revised to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the remainder of January. Previously, some locations would open at 10 a.m. and close at 9 p.m., according to Macy’s website.

Store hours will remain unchanged Friday through Sunday, said a company spokeswoman. She added, Macy’s in-store staff will continue to work their usual allotted hours. The retailer operates 516 full-line Macy’s department stores and 33 Bloomingdale’s shops, according to its website.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the CDC and jurisdictional guidelines as well as keep enhanced safety and wellness procedures in place,” said the spokeswoman, in an emailed statement.

Macy’s didn’t comment on whether or not it was seeing more of its workers testing positive for Covid-19.

On Monday, the U.S. reported 1 million new Covid infections. The record single-day number of daily new infections may have been boosted due to lags in reporting data over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, but the highly contagious Covid variants are also driving up the tally.

Americans were also more likely to spread the virus as they gathered with friends and family, and traveled over the holiday period. Early studies have suggested that Covid vaccines are less effective against omicron compared with the delta strain and other variants.

Retailers and restaurant chains around the country are drafting new plans to handle the latest wave of Covid cases, fueled by the omicron variant. Big-box retailer Walmart temporarily shut nearly 60 U.S. stores in coronavirus hotspots last month to sanitize them.

Apple, meantime, has limited service at some of its shops in the New York area, including its Fifth Avenue flagship. The electronics retailer has also cut operating hours and limited the number of customers allowed inside its stores, according to its website.

Craig Rowley, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry and head of the firm’s retail practice, said the recent wave of Covid cases putting staff out of work has exacerbated what was already a shortage of labor in the retail and restaurant industries.

He said the silver lining is that retailers mostly made it through the thick of the holiday buying season before widespread outbreaks of the virus started occurring again. Covid-19 cases began to skyrocket in New York City in mid-December.

“Retailers like where they can plan and anticipate and structure, and with this they can’t,” said Rowley.

Also in New York City, an employee at the Nike location on the Upper East Side said that store hours have been cut to noon to 5 p.m. this week, compared with a typical 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule. An Athleta location also on the Upper East Side is now closing at 7 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., said a store worker over the phone.

Nike and Athleta’s parent company Gap didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about store hours.

According to Rowley, these adjustments might not have a material impact on sales, so long as retailers can operate well enough on the weekends.

“Most retail sales [in stores] occur toward the weekend,” he said. “A lot of restaurants are no longer open seven days a week. … If somebody really needs something, they can order it online and have it delivered to your home the next day.”

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