RETAIL SII: Macy's, Kohl's Crash After Reporting Abysmal Holiday Sales; Cut Guidance; Announce Mass Layoffs, Store Closures

Remember when market cheerleaders said that holiday sales were expected to be far stronger than usual, if only as a result of the newly-discovered optimism from the Trump election? Well, at least when it comes to conventional retailers like Kohl's and Macy's... not so much.

First, it was Kohl’s, which announced it was slashing its full year forecast, and now sees FY2017 adjusted EPS of $3.60-$3.65, down from $3.80-$4.00 less than two months ago, in the day after the election (ronically). It wasn't just the future: the company revealed that comp sales were also down 2.1% y/y in fiscal months November and December combined.

As Kohl's CEO Kevin Mansell said, “sales were volatile throughout the holiday season. Strong sales on Black Friday and during the week before Christmas were offset by softness in early November and December."  

But an even greater surprise was revealed moments later by retail belwether Macy's, which not only reported a drop in same store sales, not only slashed guidance, but also announced it would close 68 stores and lay off over 10,000 workers.

Specifically, in its press release, the company announced that not only is it cutting its full year EPS to $2.95-$31.0 from $3.15-$3.40, but also another massive layoff and store closure as part of its latest set of operational restructurings which include "actions to streamline its store portfolio, intensify cost efficiency efforts and execute its real estate strategy. These actions bolster the company’s strategy to further invest in omnichannel capabilities, improve customer experience and create shareholder value.:"

In a nutshell: Macy's said it would eliminate about 3,900 jobs with the store closings, which are part of a plan announced last summer that will close about 100 of Macy’s 730 locations. It also will eliminate about 6,200 other positions as part of an effort to streamline operations and reduce expenses so it can invest more in its digital operations. “We are closing locations that are unproductive or are no longer robust shopping destinations due to changes in the local retail shopping landscape, as well as monetizing locations with highly valued real estate,” CEO Terry Lundgren said.

 Macy's also announced an additional 68 Macy’s store closings (out of a current total of 730 Macy’s stores). Of the 68, three closed mid-year, 63 will be closed in early spring 2017 and two will be closed in mid-2017. Three other locations were sold, or are to be sold, and are being leased back. (A list of planned store closings, as well as store openings, is included at the end of this news release.) The company intends to opportunistically close approximately 30 additional stores over the next few years as leases or operating covenants expire or sale transactions are completed.

As a result of closing 63 Macy’s stores in early 2017, along with the three closed mid-year 2016, the company’s 2017 sales are expected to be negatively impacted by approximately $575 million. This reflects the company’s ability to retain sales at nearby stores and on macys.com through targeted marketing and merchandising efforts.

CEO Terry Lundgren's commentary on recent trends was about as dire as any heard recently:

“Over the past year, we have been focused and disciplined about making strategic decisions to position us to gain market share and return to growth over time. While we are pleased with the strong performance of our highly developed online business, as well as the progress we have made on selling and visual presentation programs and expense reduction initiatives in 2016, we continue to experience declining traffic in our stores where the majority of our business is still transacted. Given the overall trends challenging us and the broader retail industry, and the time needed to execute new strategies, we expect our 2017 change in comparable sales to be relatively consistent with our November/December sales trend."

So pretty bad then. Needless to say, the stocks of both companies are crashing in the after hours.

Kohl's

and Macy's