Macy’s (m, -17.40%) has been making so many of the right moves in the last two years: closing weak stores, overhauling its loyalty program, focusing on its most productive locations, and being more adventurous in how it presents products.
And yet the department store chain reported an anemic increase in comparable sales for the crucial holiday season, reawakening fears—after a strong start to 2018—that it can’t quite find its way back into shoppers’ graces.
Macy’s said on Thursday that comparable sales, a metric that excludes stores closed in the last year, rose 1.1% (it was even less when stripping out the benefit of space leased to outside brands) in November and December. Such a modest increase was disappointing in the strong consumer spending environment in which overall retail sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 were up 5.1% according to an estimate from MastercardSpendingPulse. And in theory, Macy’s should have gotten a bit of a lift from the troubles at its mall neighbors J.C. Penney and Sears.
But Macy’s also lowered its sales and profit forecast for the full fiscal year ending in early February. ( Kohl’s also reported a modest 1.2% increase but that was compared to…