North Dekalb Mall Store On Macy's Hit List

Randy Stuart
Randy Stuart

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 7, 2016) — Department store giant Macy’s announced Thursday a raft of store closings around the country, including the shutdown of the chain’s North DeKalb Mall store, which had already begun a closeout sale at the end of last year.

The Cincinnati-based chain blamed the closings — 36 in all — on disappointing 2015 sales and said it plans to “operate more effectively with an organization that is flatter and more agile.”

A total of 89 workers will be laid off at the 190,000-square-foot Decatur store, which opened in 1965. The company said it will close in the spring.

The closure is the latest setback for some metro Atlanta malls, which have struggled over the past decade as growing numbers of consumers shop online.

Several malls have filled vacancies with non-traditional tenants such as doctor’s offices and schools, while others, such as Union Station, the defunct former Shannon Mall, have found new uses. (Union Station has been demolished to make way for a movie studio and a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center).

Plans are underway to turn the upper floor of Sears at Cumberland Mall into a Kroger grocery store.

Randy Stuart, an associate professor of marketing at Kennesaw State University, said discount stores such as Costco are driving customer foot traffic today and becoming the destination for shoppers. That has kept malls relevant, but in a way that differs greatly from their historic use.

“The mall was and still is a place for people to socialize, to be with each other,” Stuart said.

Kathleen Hatfield of Clarkston said she occasionally stopped by the North DeKalb Macy’s because of its convenience, but wasn’t a heavy shopper there. She came out Thursday to find a bargain before the store closes, which is scheduled for sometime this spring.

“It’s easy to get here, but there is a Macy’s just a few miles away at Northlake Mall so this (closing) will be OK,” she said. 

Macy’s said sales fell 5.2 percent between November and December, though it also estimated 80 percent of the late-year slump was weather related.

J.C. Penney, meanwhile, reported a 3.9 percent gain in comparable-store sales during the holidays, a reversal from recent years when it struggled while Macy’s was more resilient.

Marvin Ellison, J.C. Penney’s CEO since August, said the company strived to improve its online business. It also focused on store label brands and improved holiday gift selection.

Macy’s had been a stellar performer since the recession but over the past year or so sales growth slowed. Profits are under pressure because of investments in new businesses and discounts the retailer has been forced to offer because of weak sales.