May 21 (UPI) -- Retailer Macy's said Thursday it expects to post a first-quarter loss of more than $1 billion and report a major decline in sales due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The department store chain said the loss could reach as high as $1.1 billion for the first three months of 2020 and sales down 45 percent. Macy's had an operating income of $203 million in Q1 of 2019.
"COVID-19 has impacted the lives of many of our colleagues and customers, and health and safety remain our top priority," Jeff Gennette, Macy's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "We closed all of our stores -- Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury -- on March 18, which had a significant impact on our first quarter results.
Gennette said February figures were "in line with our expectations" and April saw an increase in online sales.
"The digital performance was driven by strong execution and enhanced fulfillment options, including curbside pickup where allowed," he said.
Nearly 200 Macy's and Bloomingdale's locations have opened in "full format" since states began loosening restrictions this month, and another 80 will reopen over the Memorial Day weekend.
"We have enhanced health and safety standards across all of our stores and facilities," Gennette added. "We are also offering curbside pickup in many of our locations, including some stores that remain closed to the public.
"With two weeks of results from reopened stores, customer demand is moderately higher than we anticipated."
Competitor JC Penney said this week it plans to close 242 stores as part of its plans for bankruptcy.