Saks Takes the ‘Necessary Step’ to Furlough Workers Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

As coronavirus-induced store closures continue into April, Saks Fifth Avenue has made the decision to furlough a portion of its workforce in the United States.

While on unpaid leave, employees will continue to receive health benefits, with Saks to cover premiums. “Small teams” of employees will remain in place to support essential business functions, including e-commerce operations. The department store did not specify how many employees will be impacted by these furloughs.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on the world, our communities and our businesses. It is clear that now is not the right time to reopen our stores,” a Saks spokesperson told FN in a statement. “This is an incredibly challenging situation for our people, but a necessary step to protect the long-term viability of our business for customers, associates and partners.”

All Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off Fifth outposts in the U.S. and Canada have been shuttered since March 18. The retailer paid its associates as scheduled during an initial two-week closure period.

As store closures extend into April, numerous department stores have announced the decision to furlough workers, including Nordstrom, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. The coronavirus crisis has caused many companies to tap into credit lines to maintain their cash flow. Further, a growing number of executives are taking pay cuts or forfeiting salaries as the pandemic continues.

According to Johns Hopkins, the coronavirus has infected more than 1.2 million people internationally as of Sunday, with over 66,000 dead. In the U.S., more than 312,000 people have been sickened, and the death toll has risen to over 8,500. More than 90% of Americans are living under stay-at-home orders, with nonessential businesses, including fashion stores, temporarily shut as a public safety measure.


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