In January, local Macy’s shoppers were saddened to learn that the retailer’s Northgate Mall location would close sometime next year.
This week, the news got sadder still. On Wednesday, Macy’s officials confirmed that the closure date for the Northgate location has been moved up to “mid-2019.”
The confirmation came after employees at the Northgate store told The Seattle Times they’d learned of the new closure date from managers at the start of their Wednesday shifts.
“It was supposed to be next year, but now it’s this year — in July,” said one employee.
Asked for comment, Macy’s officials issued a statement virtually identical to one issued in January. Macy’s “has been reviewing its real estate portfolio across the country to see if there are opportunities to improve the use of our assets,” a company spokesperson said in an email Wednesday.
The Northgate closure comes as Macy’s local presence has been shrinking dramatically. The retailer shuttered its Redmond Town Center location this year.
Last year, Macy’s flagship store in downtown Seattle — a block-size building in the heart of downtown — was reduced to a couple of floors. The rest of the building was converted to office space and leased to Amazon. The company did not comment on speculation that the downtown location is also on borrowed time.
The spokesperson added that “the decision to close stores is always a difficult one, but Macy’s is delighted to have served the Seattle community over the past 70 years, and we look forward to continuing to do so at the nearby Macy’s stores in Downtown Seattle and Lynnwood and online.”
Macy’s officials declined to say why the date had been moved up. But one Macy’s employee said she’d been told that the owners of the Northgate mall, Simon Property Group, pushed for an earlier closure in order to get an earlier-than-expected start on a new development planned for the site.
A spokesperson for Simon also declined to address the reason for the earlier closure date.
The Northgate location is scheduled to be part of a massive redevelopment project, still in the permitting process, that would keep much of the mall’s retail function but would add housing, office space and a training center for Seattle’s new National Hockey League team, according to project plans.
The reshuffling is part of a larger downsizing by Macy’s as it and other traditional retailers confront a landscape disrupted by Amazon and other online retailers.
In 2016, Macy’s announced plans to close 100 stores and invest the cost savings in a strategic shift toward online and mobile shopping. By the end of 2017, Macy’s had closed 81 stores, with 11 more closures planned for 2018, according to a report from CNBC.
The Northgate closure marks a somber milestone for the Seattle mall. The mall’s anchor tenant, when Northgate opened back in 1950, was The Bon Marché, which became Macy’s in 2003. Last October, another Northgate anchor tenant, J.C. Penney, announced it would close in 2019.
The closure will be preceded by a clearance sale that will begin in May and run for approximately eight to 12 weeks, according to the company.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article included a statement from Macy’s that regular, non-seasonal employees would be “eligible for severance, including outplacement resources.” On Thursday, a Macy’s spokesperson said that the company’s initial statement was incorrect and that Northgate employees “are not eligible at this time” for severance benefits “as all details are currently being worked out.”