Despite Macy's Closure, No Concerns Arise About Newton's Economy
Local economic observers say Newton businesses recovering slowly, despite department store closure
Macy's may be closing its Newton location, but local economic experts say they aren't worried about the future of local businesses.
The store announced the closure in January, citing dwindling sales numbers at its Chestnut Hill store coupled with the close proximity of a Bloomingdale's store in the Mall at Chestnut Hill (Bloomingdale's is owned by the Macy's parent company). The company announced the closure would take place following a nine-week clearance sale.
The large building, a monument of commerce in Chestnut Hill, now sits empty and the iconic Macy's sign pulled out from above the doors.
But Pat Palmer, president of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, said he felt business in Newton was still strong.
"From my perspective, business, in general, is experiencing a slow rebound from the woes of ’09 and ’10," Palmer said. "Restaurants seem to be doing well... I believe consumer confidence is up."
He added that Newton was never affected as much as other towns by the economic downturn.
"Real estate [in particular] in Newton never suffered the huge price decreases that other communities experienced, although the number of sales slowed."
Candace Havens, director of Newton's Planning & Development Department, said that while she also thought the city's economy was rebounding, she was still upset that Macy's was departing.
"We're certainly sorry to see Macy's leave," she said, "We have observed other closures, not only in Newton, but all over the country, as affected by our current economy."
Havens said mall sites like Macy's, situated on Route 9, help to bring shoppers from surrounding cities and towns into Newton.
According to a statement released with the January anouncement, Macy's is also closing stores in Austin, Texas, and Union City, Ga. Employees at the Chestnut Hill location will be relocated to nearby stores or offerd severance benefits.
But Macy's is not the only store in Chestnut Hill to shut its doors in recent months. Accross the street at the Atrium Mall, large retailers including Williams Sonoma and Borders have moved out as well.
The Rugged Bear announced early last month it was closing all its stores, including one in Chestnut Hill, adding to the list of empty storefronts on Route 9.
The Rugged Bear is currently holding a closeout sale, with everything at least 50 percent off. The store in Chestnut Hill remains open with sales; a spokesperson for Rugged Bear did not return messages to confirm an actual closing date.