Store Closings and Fleeing Shoppers: Is Macy’s the Next J.C. Penney?

The ongoing saga of the modern department store.

Supannee Hickman /

A Macy’s location. | Supannee Hickman /

The year isn’t starting off on a great foot for Macy’s. A lackluster holiday quarter, in which the chain saw sales fall more than 5 percent, has resulted in the company slashing 4,800 jobs and shuttering 40 stores across the country, including the Suburban Square outpost.

Execs blame the unseasonably warm weather, which actually posed problems for many retailers (to the tune of some $400 million in lost sales). But the forecast for Macy’s was looking bleak even before the first wreaths were hung: The company lowered its full-year expectations back in August (then, they blamed it partly on a decrease in international tourism). 

It’s not entirely surprising, if you ask me. I have noticed that many of the department store’s locations are looking worse for wear with cluttered floors, dingy dressing rooms, ever-cheapening product offerings, and, well, mailers that look like this. In an age where shoppers are increasingly savvy and bombarded by countless retail options (including, cough, online), no one wants to spend money in a place that looks semi post-apocalyptic or, at the very least, sort of depressing.

But it’s also not entirely doom and gloom, at least not yet. After all, J.C. Penney – which, 2014, looked to be on the brink of utter disaster – ended up increasing its sales last year and is considered by many retail analysts to be poised for a successful 2016. Hey, if they can turn it around, anyone can.