Dismal holiday sales at Macy's and Kohl's cast gloom over sector

Thu Jan 5, 2017 1:44pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Disappointing holiday-season sales at Macy's Inc (M.N: Quote) and Kohl's Corp (KSS.N: Quote) underscored the uphill task facing department stores to win back shoppers, who are increasingly turning to online retailers and spending less on apparel.

Macy's shares fell as much as 14 percent on Thursday, their biggest percentage drop in seven months. Kohl's stock dropped as much as 20.5 percent, its biggest decline in more than 14 years.

Both reported lower-than-expected sales for November and December and cut their full-year profit forecasts on Wednesday.

Macy's, known the world over for its flagship Herald Square store in Manhattan and its annual Thanksgiving Day parade, is considered a bellwether for department stores.

However, it is expected to relinquish its position as the largest U.S. apparel retailer to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote) as soon as this year as it struggles to compete on prices and the convenience offered by online shopping.

Amazon said last week it had its "best ever" holiday season, shipping more than 1 billion items worldwide.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Shares of other department store operators, including J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: Quote) and Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N: Quote), also fell as the dismal showing took investors by surprise.   Continued...

 
A sales assistant works in a Christmas hat at Macy's Herald Square in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 22, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly