Coronavirus: Macy’s furloughs majority of workers, including 5,000 in Bay Area

Macy’s is furloughing the majority of its approximately 130,000 workers two weeks after closing many of its stores in the country because of the coronavirus. The move is another blow to retail workers, including 5,000 who work across 20 Bay Area stores.

The Cincinnati company told staff Monday that it was transitioning to an “absolute minimum workforce” but would continue to pay health benefits and cover 100% of premiums for workers, including sales and stock clerks, at least through May. The company said some employees will continue to work in e-commerce operations, distribution and call center teams.

Macy’s has already been downsizing heavily in San Francisco. In February, Macy’s said it would lay off 831 employees in San Francisco at its e-commerce division with plans to shift tech operations to New York and Atlanta, amid plans to close 125 stores nationwide. That was before the coronavirus pandemic. It previously sold the historic I. Magnin Building on Union Square and its men’s store at 120 Stockton St.

Mall anchor retailers like Macy’s have struggled for years to get more shoppers into their stores, but those efforts have come to a complete standstill in recent weeks. The pandemic has been especially brutal to clothing retailers whose businesses have been rendered nonessential. Macy’s, which also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, closed its stores on March 18, and has seen sales vanish. The closure affects its retail workforce the most, many of whom often make minimum wage.

“The COVID-19 outbreak continues to take a heavy toll on Macy’s business,” the company said. “We have lost the majority of our sales due to the store closures.” The company said it expects to “bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes.”

Other retailers such as Men’s Warehouse and Victoria’s Secret have furloughed either all or some of their store employees. Rent the Runway, a women’s clothing store, laid off all its retail staff, according to The Verge.

The furloughs and layoffs will further weaken the labor market. A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as of March 21.

Shwanika Narayan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: shwanika.narayan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @shwanika


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.