Department store chains see key sales figures fall

Staff, wire reports

It’s still a rough time to be a department store.

Macy’s, Kohl’s and Dillard’s — which all have stores in Trumbull and Mahoning counties — each said Thursday that a key sales figure fell again in the latest quarter as customers increasingly shop online, at discount stores and elsewhere.

All of the retail chains have stores in the Mahoning Valley, including in Niles, Boardman and Hermitage.

At Macy’s, the decrease wasn’t as bad as Wall Street expected, and Kohl’s managed to keep the decline to just 0.4 percent.

But shares of all three plummeted, with Macy’s Inc. hitting a seven-year low Thursday. Kohl’s Corp. fell 5 percent and Dillard’s Inc. dropped 16 percent after reporting a loss of $17.1 million.

Macy’s has cut jobs and closed some locations, but its local stores at the Eastwood Mall in Niles and Southern Park Mall in Boardman have remained open. The retailer also continues to maintain its Macy’s Distribution Center in North Jackson.

The retailer has started an off-price brand, and it plans to launch a loyalty program in October that it hopes will bring more shoppers through its doors. The company is open to more changes: When asked Thursday if Macy’s would consider selling medicine, appliances or other items to make it more of a one-stop shop, CEO Jeff Gennette didn’t say no.

“Macy’s is a very flexible brand,” he said.

Rival J.C Penney, which is scheduled to report results today, has brought major appliances to its stores after a long absence — an area that had been a remaining source of strength for Sears.

Macy’s, the nation’s largest department store chain, said sales fell 2.8 percent at established stores during the second quarter, its tenth such decline in a row. But that was better than the 3.3 percent drop that analysts expected, according to FactSet. Kohl’s saw same-store-sales fall 0.4 percent during the quarter.

About a year ago, Dillard’s converted its Eastwood Mall store into one of its Dillard’s Clearance Centers.