A few days ago, Macy’s announced that it was furloughing most of its 130,000 employees. While we hear the news, we rarely hear about how these decisions impact the lives of those working in retail.

In our series, Tales from Retail, we will be speaking to those who work in fashion to see how the CoronaVirus has impacted their livelihood:

Andrea Welch, 34. Visual Merchandising Manager, Macy’s.

She says, “When I started in 2008, retail was definitely booming. I went to Berkeley for fashion merchandising and management, and wanted to grow with a company. Macy’s has been a household name in my house for years.”

“I knew [lay offs were] going to happen. I love retail. My heart has always been with connecting with people and having that one-on-one experience. The brick-n-mortar experience in changing. In the future, there will still be stores around, but not as many.”

“I’m a single mother, I have a mortgage. I have to think about what can keep me afloat. Everything is happening really fast. I haven’t really thought about what my next step is. I’m on unemployment right now. My mortgage is being deferred. I think everyone in the retail environment is in a weird place. Macy’s has been pretty good to me. I don’t know what to do.”

Danishia Green, 28 years old. Assistant Operational Manager, JC Penney.

She says, “On Tuesday, 85,000 people were furloughed. It was bound to happen. “

“As a manager, I’ve had to explain to my associates that they no longer have their jobs. It’s been very uncomfortable. [I’m always scared that they will have more questions] that I don’t have the answer to.”

“The positive part of it is that I’m still alive and I haven’t been affected. I’ve never been unemplyed. Learning how to file for unemployment [has been a humbling experience]. Thankfully I have savings. It affected me in a different way, but I’m trying to be as positive as possible.”

“I love my job and I have a great deal of respect for my job. [I encourage my fellow retail workers to] continue to stay positive. We are all in this together. It’s a lot of us, thousands of us who are unemployed. You are not alone and we’re doing this together. “

Eric Curiel, 30 years old. Visual Stylist, Neiman Marcus.

He says, “For right now, we are covered for another month. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens to us too.”

“I am originally from the Dominican Republic. I’ve been doing retail for 7 years. I started in commercial retail and then progressed into luxury retail. Most of our customers shop online, but we still have dedicated customers who enjoy the experience of shopping at our store, and being able to see the product. I’m afraid with the changes in the economy with Covid 19, people are going to be more cautious with their finances and more skeptical of spending money, causing sales to drop. Hopefully we can overcome that.”

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