Macy’s, Gap and Express Set to Close Stores at Water Tower Place

Emily Rosca | The PhoenixThe Macy's location set to close in Water Tower Place is only blocks east of Loyola's Water Tower Campus in downtown Chicago.

After serving customers on the Magnificent Mile for years, Water Tower Place’s Macy’s, Gap and Express locations are shuttering their doors.

At least 45 Macy’s stores across the country are planning to close this year, including the nine-floor store at the Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave.), which is located blocks from Loyola’s Water Tower Campus.

The iconic department store is closing its prominent downtown location because the store is under-performing, as announced in February 2020, Julianne Olivo, a Macy’s spokesperson said.

Some non-seasonal employees at the location will be transferred to other Macy’s stores in the area, while others will receive severance and outplacement resources — a service that assists employees in finding a new job, the spokesperson said. 

The company also announced a clearance sale at the store that started this month, which will go on for 8-12 weeks, according to the Macy’s spokesperson.

“The decision to close a store is always a difficult one, and Macy’s Water Tower Place has been honored to serve its customers on the Magnificent Mile for 45 years,” the Macy’s spokesperson said. 

Macy’s announced a clearance sale at it’s Water Tower Place location until the store closes.
Emily Rosca | The Phoenix

Macy’s, Inc. currently employs approximately 90,000 employees and operates approximately 764 stores across the country, according to its website. It runs Macy’s along with upscale department store Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, a beauty retailer.

Along with Macy’s, Gap will also close its store at the downtown shopping center at the end of January, a Gap spokesperson confirmed to The Phoenix.

Gap at Water Tower Place joins many other Gap locations closing in an effort to invest in the company’s online business, a Gap spokesperson said.

“As part of our company strategy to adapt to the changing needs of our customer and growth of our online business, we are looking thoughtfully at our real estate to support the best path forward,” according to the Gap spokesperson.

Gap Inc. consists of retail brands such as Gap, Old Navy, Hill City, Janie and Jack, Intermix, Banana Republic and Athleta, according to its website.

Joining Macy’s and Gap, the retailer Express will also close its Water Tower Place store. Express didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

It hasn’t yet been announced how the vacant space in Water Tower will be utilized or what will replace Macy’s, Gap and Express. Water Tower Place didn’t respond to requests for comment.  

Malls are facing the brunt of a shift in shopping styles as consumers choose online shopping over the traditional approach of shopping in stores. In a study conducted by research firm BrizFeel, 57 percent of the customers surveyed prefer shopping online, whereas 31 percent favor shopping in stores.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also lowered the popularity of in-person shopping with a majority of people surveyed by media channel PYMNTS saying they feel unsafe shopping in-person.

Monthly sales for clothing stores have decreased by an estimated 28.5 percent since 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau. This change may be attributed to the economic effects of the pandemic as unemployment rates soared and consumer retail spending decreased after March 2020, when the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, according to analytics platform 1010 Data.

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