Saks Fifth Avenue says traffic has not slowed as coronavirus cases increase

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue said it hasn’t seen a change in purchasing patterns in Florida, Texas and other states where coronavirus cases are on the rise.

At CNBC’s “Closing Bell”, Saks Fifth Avenue President Marc Metrick said shoppers still go to stores to buy bags, shoes and other items.

“We are still seeing traffic there,” he said. “We talk to our store, our teams every day, and they tell us that they don’t really feel it or see it in traffic or even in the attitude and sensitivity in how they are buying.”

He said the company is watching him carefully, but “on the top line, we haven’t seen it.”

The United States reached a record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day on Wednesday, as Covid-19 spreads rapidly in the southern and western states. Those states were among the first to relax coronavirus restrictions.

The increase in cases led Apple to close stores a second time in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arizona in recent days, even though state governments have not ordered such measures.

Saks’ has reopened all of its 40 stores, including its Flagship in New York City that reopened on Wednesday. It is one of the luxury retailers trying to recover from temporary closings during the coronavirus pandemic and to push customers back to their stores.

To reassure customers, Saks stepped up cleaning and has new ways to shop. Customers can book a virtual appointment with a sales associate via video chat, retrieve purchases or make returns via sidewalk pickup, and reserve a locker room in advance. It has ultraviolet handrail cleaners on its escalators and hand sanitizing stations throughout its stores.

Saks, like Tiffany and other stores in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue shopping district, generally gets a rebound in sales from tourists visiting New York City. That trip, especially from other countries, practically disappeared during the pandemic.

Metrick said Saks can attract business from locals.

“Because people are a little bit more captive where they are, it will be less incoming, but also less outgoing,” he said. “So I think it will balance out well for us as we move forward in the coming months.”

Stores closed during virus-related crashes have exacerbated the problems of many department stores that were already struggling to retain customers. Neiman Marcus and JC Penney filed for bankruptcy. Macy’s said Thursday it would cut 3,900 corporate jobs. Other retailers, such as Nordstrom, have raised money, withdrawn credit, or tapped consultants.

Saks owner Hudson’s Bay is trying to raise $ 800 million to $ 900 million from investors to strengthen his finances, according to a Reuters report.

Metrick said Saks has not changed his inventory mix, such as adding more casual wear, or has made decisions about what it will look like in the future.

“We are in the unknown right now,” he said. “We have to wait. We have to go through this period. We have to start reaching the next normal to understand.”

“You could bring an evening dress to a friend’s house for dinner. Who knows?”