Jeff Gennette: ‘Macy’s Is a Healthier Business Coming Out of the Pandemic Than We Were Going Into It’

“Macy’s is a healthier business coming out of the pandemic than we were going into it.”

That’s how Jeff Gennette, the chairman and CEO of Macy’s Inc., opened his remarks at NRF’s Retail Converge Conference.

Among the key developments across the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s parent: A ramped-up focus on digital shopping, an adjustment to the merchandise mix, added safety elements in-store, customer service enhancements such as curbside pickup — and an increased emphasis on data and analytics. “Our metabolism is up. We’re moving faster than ever before,” said Gennette.

The executive called 2021 a “recovery year” on the path “back to growth.”

In May, Macy’s Inc. surprised investors with a first-quarter profit and raised its full-year outlook.

For the three-month period ended May 1, department store logged adjusted earnings of 39 cents per share, compared with the prior-year period’s loss of $2.03 per share. Wall Street had predicted a loss of 41 cents per share. Revenues surged 56% to $4.71 billion, compared with analysts’ forecasts of $4.37 billion.

Gennette credited the Polaris strategy — which was unveiled in February 2020 and centers around optimizing digital, bolstering consumer relationships and refining the store strategy — as the impetus for many of the changes.

To drive the online business and meet its goal of achieving $10 billion in digital sales by 2023, Macy’s relocated that team from San Francisco to New York to better align the group with the rest of the retailer’s key departments.

The Macy’s site also got a makeover, with cleaner, more curated experiences, Gennette said. “The changes we’ve made to the site and app have driven a higher conversion rate. The other side of it is really what we’ve done with experiences,” the executive said.

Live digital shopping events have been an immediate hit with Macy’s consumers, he added. “We want online to be just as social and fun as in-person shopping,” Gennette explained.

Finally, brick-and-mortar stores continue to be a critical part of the digital equation, and Gennette noted that when a store closes, the growth in digital “drops significantly.”

The company is experimenting with smaller-store formats for both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in an effort to boost digital transactions in key markets.

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