Macy's Herald Square opens its doors at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for thousands of early Black Friday shoppers in search of amazing sales, door buster deals, and limited time offers on in New YorkHerald Square Black Friday Opening, New York, USA - 22 Nov 2018

Macy’s Inc. is off to a “good start” to the holiday season, with housewares, big-ticket items, coats, women’s, men’s and kids’ apparel, accessories and beauty showing healthy early reads, according to Jeff Gennette, the retailer’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“It’s been good, but Black Friday is just the start of the holiday season,” Gennette told WWD on Friday morning, referring to online and store traffic. “There are a number of our stores where we do actual traffic counts,” Gennette said. “So far, so good.”

While some retailers started promoting Christmas gifts right after Halloween, Gennette sees the bulk of the holiday season “really compressed between Black Friday and Christmas. That’s really the season.”

While online business is round the clock, Macy’s stores opened at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and closed at 2 a.m. Friday morning, only to reopen four hours later at 6 a.m.

“The coat category is off the hook. It’s very strong and it’s been that way all the way through the back half of the third quarter to date,” Gennette said, adding that boots and cold-weather accessories have been strong, as well. “Amazing fashion” as well as innovative fabrics, and the blast of cold weather from Siberia have given an extra kick to the cold-weather business.

Asked if this week’s Black Friday business is a barometer for what might happen through the holiday season, Gennette replied, “No, but it’s a good start. It’s too early to comment on the overall season.”

Gennette said there’s an “interesting rhythm” to the five weeks, with a “lull” occurring after Cyber Monday, which is Nov. 26 this year. “Customers take a break and then there’s a last jolt [lasting] seven days before Christmas.”

He said on Black Friday “there is always going to be great values. We buy it [merchandise] for Black Friday to sell out on Black Friday.” But he added that depending on the sell-throughs, there could be bigger markdowns later in the season.

With the stock market dropping hundreds of points in the last week, there have been concerns that consumers may put some restraint on their holiday spending, but Gennette, when asked if that could happen, replied, “I don’t think so. I think consumer confidence is high. Unemployment is low. The analysts are sticking to their prognostications about the fourth quarter,” which calls for midsingle-digit sales gains for the November-December period.

Gennette was pleased by the turnout for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade despite being a record cold day for the parade, with gusts of wind.

“It was cold, but hearty New Yorkers came out,” Gennette said. “It was really good to see. Really nothing keeps the parade from happening. The wind was kicking up so we flew the balloons much lower. It’s more impressive on camera when you have them flying higher, but for people at the parade it was actually good viewing.”

This year Macy’s has been competing effectively, as seen by its net income, which in the third quarter ended Nov. 3 more than doubled to $62 million, up from $27 million in the year-ago period. Comparable sales rose 3.3 percent for the three months while total sales increased to $5.4 billion from $5.28 billion.

Based on the momentum going into the fourth quarter, the $25 billion Macy’s raised its annual sales and earnings guidance. Comparable sales for 2018 are seen increasing 2.3 to 2.5 percent from previous guidance of 2.1 to 2.5 percent. Net sales are now seen rising by 0.3 to 0.7 percent for 2018, from earlier expectations of being flat to 0.7 percent ahead, while diluted earnings per share are now seen at $4.10 to $4.30, versus earlier guidance of $3.95 to $4.15.

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