Ralph Lauren and Foot Locker join growing list of retailers shutting stores due to coronavirus

Ralph Lauren Corp. and Foot Locker Inc. joined a growing list of retailers that are temporarily shutting their stores in North America and elsewhere in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With governments recommending “social distancing” and restricting the number of people who gather in spaces across cities and towns, retailers are suggesting that shoppers turn to their e-commerce channels to do their shopping.

With each announcement, retailers say they will continue to pay staff during the store closures and in some cases offer other financial assistance for those who need it.

Ralph Lauren RL, +2.67% will close stores across North America from March 18 through April 1. A number of stores in Europe and Asia are already closed due to the pandemic.

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Foot Locker FL, +1.48% closed stores across North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia) and Malaysia from March 17 through March 31.

Stores in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia will remain open as directed by local governments. Foot Locker has 3,129 stores around the world.

Foot Locker is also among a growing number of retailers and brands that have nixed their guidance.

The athletic retailer has withdrawn its full-year outlook and will provide an update with the first-quarter earnings announcement, scheduled for May 22. The FactSet consensus is for earnings per share of $1.43 and sales of $2.04 billion.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. WSM, -1.49% closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada starting 6 p.m. local time Tuesday through April 2. The Williams-Sonoma portfolio includes the namesake stores, Pottery Barn and West Elm.

“Our e-commerce sites, distribution centers and customer care centers will remain open, and we will keep our online order pickup at curb side and ship from store, as local regulations allow,” said Laura Alber, Williams-Sonoma chief executive, in a statement.

Raymond James analysts estimate that 54% of 2019 sales were through e-commerce channels.

“Admittedly, given the current news flow, most consumers are likely not focused on home furnishings right now,” analysts said. “Nonetheless, given customers will more than likely be spending a great deal of time in their homes over the next few weeks, we suspect there will be some e-commerce revenue during the closure period.”

Raymond James rates Williams-Sonoma stock market perform.

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Chico’s FAS Inc. CHS, +0.00% stores will be closed across North America for the next two weeks. Chico’s brands include the namesake, White House Black Market and Soma. Chico’s has also withdrawn the guidance it issued on Feb. 27. New guidance will not be announced at this time.

The FactSet consensus is for earnings per share of 8 cents and sales of $523 million in the fiscal first quarter. Earnings are scheduled to be announced on May 27.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. LULU, +4.25% closed all of its stores in North America and Europe, from March 16 through March 27, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are taking this step to help protect our global community, guests and people, and ensure we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Chief Executive Calvin McDonald. “During this time, Lululemon employees will continue to receive pay for all hours they have been scheduled to work and have access to Lululemon’s Global Pay Relief plan.”

H&M Hennes & Mauritz HM.B, -6.68% said it would close all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada until April 2. And the company says that it has previously extended its return policy in response to the outbreak.

Nordstrom Inc. JWN, +8.90% is shuttering its U.S. and Canadian stores, including Nordstrom full-line, Nordstrom Rack, Trunk Club clubhouses and Jeffrey for two weeks, effective Tuesday. The company’s online business, which accounted for one third of sales in 2019, will remain in business.

The company is withdrawing its fiscal 2020 guidance offered on March 3, which did not include the impact of the coronavirus.

“Due to heightened uncertainty relating to the impacts of COVID-19 on the company’s business operations, including the duration and impact on overall customer demand, the company is withdrawing its 2020 guidance.

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“While February sales were in-line with expectations, the company experienced a broad-based deceleration in customer demand over the past couple of weeks, particularly in markets most affected by the virus.”

The company is also planning further cost and capex cuts and is suspending its share buyback program.

Another department store retailer shutting its doors nationwide is Macy’s Inc. M, -0.15% , which is also closing Bluemercury, Bloomingdale’s and its off-price chains, from March 17 through March 31.

Other companies that have announced temporary closures are Levi Strauss & Co. LEVI, -1.91% , Nike Inc. NKE, +4.57% , Columbia Sportswear Inc. COLM, +0.72% , Party City Holdco Inc. PRTY, -2.62% and Under Armour Inc. UA, +7.56%UAA, +7.28%

On the other hand, Gap Inc. GPS, +0.12% and Adidas AG ADS, -2.12% have said that they will keep stores open. Gap says stores across its portfolio, including Banana Republic and Old Navy, will operate at reduced hours.

See:Gap and Adidas stores still operating as a slew of other consumer businesses close due to coronavirus

Separate from store closures, Groupon Inc. GRPN, -4.43% has alerted customers that eligible vouchers will be extended for up to one year, and customer support will be available to help in the event that an event or deal is canceled. Customers who receive an exchange or refund will also receive a $10 bonus promo code.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, +5.16% has tumbled 32.6% over the past year. The Amplify Online Retail ETF IBUY, +5.69% is down 23.4%. And the S&P 500 index SPX, +6.00% has fallen 10.7% for the period.

With additional reporting by Tomi Kilgore and Ciara Linnane