Macy’s Damage Is Limited, but Looting Deals a Symbolic Blow

In the end, the damage to the store may have been limited. But images of looters smashing windows and running through Macy’s flagship location in Herald Square was another symbolic hit to the already badly battered retailer.

As roving bands of people swarmed through Manhattan late Monday and early Tuesday during protests over the killing of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody, some of them ransacked the city’s most vibrant and valuable retail corridors, from the Upper East Side to Midtown.

But the Macy’s in Herald Square looms larger perhaps than any other store in New York, not only for the company, which draws a significant amount of its brand identity and revenue from the building, which it has occupied since 1902, but also for the broader retail industry.

“Macy’s Herald Square transcends that one company,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents the store’s workers. “For a lot of people, it represents all of retail itself.”

Macy’s, which also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, was still assessing the losses from the mayhem. But a spokeswoman said on Tuesday that no employees had been harmed and that “damage has been limited,” a result of New York police officers responding to the scene. The Herald Square location had been temporarily closed since March because of the pandemic, but a skeleton crew of employees has continued working in the store. The company said that during the weekend about 30 of its roughly 775 stores were closed or had shortened hours because of civil unrest and curfews.

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