Dillard’s Losses Mount on Coronavirus-Induced Store Closures — But It Has a Reopening Plan in Place

The coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in Dillard’s Inc.’s balance sheet.

During the first quarter, the department store chain posted a loss of $162 million, or $6.94 per share, compared with last year’s earnings of $78.6 million, or $2.99 per share. Total retail sales for the three-month period ended May 2 amounted to $751 million, versus the $1.42 billion it generated last year.

Although it announced expectations to be in a net operating loss position for the rest of the fiscal year, the company did not provide an outlook for 2020 due to uncertainties stemming from the outbreak.

“COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our business,” CEO William Dillard said in a statement. “The mall business in general and department stores, specifically, have been particularly hard hit.”

Dillard’s had began shuttering stores in mid-March as a result of state and local government mandates. By April 9, all of its 285 locations in the country were temporarily closed.

Last Tuesday, the Little Rock, Ark.-based retailer unlocked 45 of its doors in markets where stay-at-home orders had been eased. Based on nine days of data, those outposts, said the company, have “produced sales of roughly 56% of last year’s performance” while operating at reduced hours. This week, it opened back up another 80 outposts.

In total, 149 Dillard’s units have reopened, including 24 clearance centers. It plans to add another 116 stores to that list, as well as five more clearance outlets.

“While our balance sheet was already strong, we took decisive, sometimes difficult, actions to preserve liquidity and ensure our long-term viability. As we reopen stores, we see positive things happening,” Dillard said. “We believe people are ready to get out and shop. We are hoping this is the start of better times.”

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