Macy’s to Shutter 11 Stores

Cincinnati Macy's Inc. said Thursday it will close 11 underperforming stores in nine states — affecting 960 employees — and lowered its forecast for the fourth quarter after one of the weakest holiday seasons in years.

Stores slated to close include locations in Los Angeles; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; and St. Louis, among others. Macy's Inc. says the closures will cost about $65 million, most of which will be booked in the 2008 fourth quarter.

“These closings are part of our normal-course process to prune underperforming locations each year in order to maintain a healthy portfolio of stores," said Macy's chief executive Terry J. Lundgren in a statement.

Macy's reported Thursday that its December same-store sales, fell 4%, which was not as bad as the 5.3% drop analysts expected.

Total sales for the five-week period ended Jan. 3 fell 5% to $4.4 billion from $4.61 billion last year.

Same-store sales fell 7.5% during the combined November and December holiday period. Macy's said the holiday season ended with improved sales in the fourth and fifth weeks of December but sales were sluggish before that.

The company said it marked items down sharply in the fourth quarter to gain sales and reduce its inventories, but that hurt its margins and led it to lower its profit forecast for the fourth quarter and full year.