Macy’s reveals plans for a TV-only Thanksgiving Day Parade
In late April, when the pandemic was just beginning to realize its deadly potential, Macy’s said it was still planning to move forward with a Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now, the beleaguered department store chain is offering consumers a glimpse of what they can expect at its iconic event, now in its 94th year.
The event will be more of a TV show, and less of a parade. All performances and activities will center around midtown and Macy’s Herald Square, Manhattan flagship, rather than travel a 2.5-mile parade route throughout the city. The retailer said it will only have about one-quarter of the number of event participants, who will wear face coverings and maintain social distancing while performing. Unlike in previous years, the performance will not include high school marching bands—those that were previously selected will perform next year. Macy’s said no one in the parade will be under the age of 18 years old.
“The Macy’s Parade is our love letter and gift to the City of New York and the nation,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a statement. “Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families.”
The Parade, which dates back to 1924, has consistently been a lucrative branding opportunity for marketers, which deploy a mix of balloons and floats that can cost as much as $200,000. This year, the floats will look different too. Macy’s said its signature balloons will be flown by a “specially rigged anchor vehicle framework” consisting of New York City Police Department and Department of Transportation vehicles. Normally, such balloons are flown and operated by 80 to 100 handlers.
On a recent earnings call with analysts, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette spoke about how the retailer still plans to move forward with tentpole events, but in a different way amid COVID-19.
“We are re-imagining our iconic events to deliver the magic of the holidays, from the Thanksgiving Day Parade to local tree lightings and holiday windows.” he said on the call.
Like many department stores, Macy’s has had its share of coronavirus-related pitfalls. In late June, the chain announced 3,900 corporate job cuts. Macy’s also ran a back-to-school campaign early in the summer to try to spur spending. But the company has seen some recent glimmers of recovery; Gennette said demand is beginning to return across brands. For the second quarter, the company reported net sales of $3.6 billion, a 36 percent decline over the year-earlier period. Macy’s lost $431 million in the quarter. However, online sales at Macy’s were up 53 percent in the quarter, contrasted with a 61 percent decline in brick-and-mortar sales.