Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass: ‘Amazon is working’

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An Amazon.com Inc. sign hangs outside a Kohl’s Corp. department store in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

Kyle Grillot | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass says the retailer’s partnership with Amazon is going well, despite Kohl’s reporting dismal holiday sales that cast doubt on the strategy.

“I get this question, ‘Is Amazon working?'” Gass said Sunday at the National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show in New York, in an interview with CNBC’s Courtney Reagan. “Amazon is working. This returns program is working. We’re seeing the traffic. We’re getting new customers.”

But — more important than people moving in and out of Kohl’s stores only to return items purchased on Amazon — analysts are looking for sales growth. Kohl’s had said ahead of the 2019 holiday season that a nationwide rollout of the Amazon returns service was going to be a boon for its business.

But Kohl’s same-store sales dropped 0.2% during this past November and December. It led retail analysts to call the tie-up with Amazon into question. Some say it isn’t turning out to be all that Kohl’s hyped it up to be. Some say it is benefiting Amazon more than it is Kohl’s.

“We’re getting a younger customer,” Gass said Sunday. “And to what we expected, some of them were buying. … You’re never going to get 100%. But some of them are buying.”

Kohl’s is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, which include the holiday season, on March 3 and is scheduled to hold its annual investor meeting March 16.

“I’m very confident around where we’re going,” Gass added about Kohl’s 2020 outlook.

Kohl’s shares were down less than 1% Monday morning. The stock has fallen 31% over the past 12 months. Kohl’s has a market cap of about $7.2 billion.

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