Retail  December 13, 2022

Macy’s upcoming Fort Collins closure reflects national trend

FORT COLLINS — The impending closure of the Macy’s location in Fort Collins’ Foothills shopping district leaves just one traditional full-service department store in Northern Colorado and two in the Boulder Valley, following a nationwide trend driven by online competition and the different shopping priorities of emerging generations.

As first reported Tuesday in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Foothills’ owner confirmed that the 128,000-square-foot Macy’s store there would close in March after 48 years in the midtown Fort Collins space under the May D&F, Foley’s and Macy’s brands.

The Macy’s stores in the Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland and at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield remain open, although the retailer closed a longtime store in Boulder’s Twenty Ninth Street shopping area this year. That store had opened as a May D&F when the site housed the enclosed Crossroads Mall. 

The only other large-scale department store in the Boulder Valley is a Dillard’s location in FlatIron Crossing, although Macy’s and JCPenney also still operate in the nearby Orchards Town Center at 144th Avenue and Interstate 25 in Westminster.

Originally R.H. Macy & Co. when it was founded in 1858 by Roland Hussey Macy, Macy’s is famous for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade that travels past its iconic flagship store in New York City’s Herald Square. But when lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of brick-and-mortar retail in 2020, the high-end department-store chain announced that it would leave underperforming shopping centers and focus instead on smaller stores, including its lower-priced Macy’s Backstage brand, a similar concept to that of Nordstrom Rack. It had been closing stores around the country since 2009.

Net third-quarter sales for Macy’s (NYSE: M) were $5.2 billion, down 3.9% from the same period in 2021. Sales at its brick-and-mortar stores declined by 1% and digital sales by 9% in that time period.

Macy’s had been the largest anchor at Foothills and the last department store there after Sears and JCPenney closed. JCPenney left the mall for a freestanding location in 2006 but shut it down in 2020 amid the pandemic. Sears left in 2014 as the mall was being redeveloped and opened a 10,000-square-foot appliance-oriented store that remains open adjacent to the mall at 3400 S. College Ave.

Sears and JCPenney closed their full-service stores in the Greeley Mall — in 2018 and 2020, respectively — as well as in Longmont’s former Twin Peaks Mall before that shopping center was razed and redeveloped as Village at the Peaks. Sears briefly operated a smaller-scale Sears Hometown store along Ken Pratt Boulevard in Longmont and a “Brand Central” appliance store in the Larkridge shopping area at I-25 and Colorado Highway 7, but closed both.

JCPenney also opted to leave Twin Peaks Mall for a freestanding space across Hover Street but closed that site as well after a few years. Besides its Orchards location, Penney’s remains open in the Prairie Center shopping area at 144th Avenue and I-76 in Brighton and in the redeveloped “Downtown Westminster” development at 88th Avenue and U.S. Highway 36.

Nordstrom closed its FlatIron Crossing store in 2020 but still operates Nordstrom Rack stores in the Foothills shopping center area in Fort Collins, at Twenty Ninth Street in Boulder, near FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield, and in the Orchards Town Center in Westminster.

Dillard’s had been the last holdout anchor at Twin Peaks Mall before the Longmont shopping center was razed. Its building is the only remnant of the old mall that remains, and a portion of it now houses a Gold’s Gym.

Nick Egelanian, president of retail consulting firm SiteWorks, predicted in October in The Wall Street Journal that only about 150 malls would be left in the United States 10 years from now, down from about 700 today and 2,500 in the 1980s. Egelanian blamed the rise of lower-cost discount stores and the migration to online shopping, which the pandemic accelerated.

Prism Places and Loveland-based developer McWhinney bought Foothills in 2021 and could put the Macy’s space to a number of different uses, including smaller retail, offices or apartments, although Prism Places president Stenn Parton told the Coloradoan that a redevelopment plan would probably not take shape before late 2023.

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