Bed Bath & Beyond closing stores, cruises prepare to sail

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Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close about 200 stores over the next two years as its sales slid in the first quarter

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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RETAIL:

— Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close about 200 stores over the next two years as its sales slid in the first quarter. The chain reported its quarterly sales dropped 49% due to temporary store closures amid the pandemic. Online sales soared 82%.

— The Buckle is seeing improving sales as more of its stores reopen. The fashion retailer said Thursday that sales for the five-week period ended July 4 rose 26.8% from a year ago. Buckle began temporarily closing stores in mid-March. Since then, it’s reopened 438 stores. It currently runs 446 retail stores in 42 states.

— Big 5 Sporting Goods is also seeing a resurgence in its business since reopening stores. The sporting goods retailer’s same-store sales dropped 28.2% in the first half of the second quarter with stores shuttered, according to preliminary data. However, the metric climbed 15.5% in the second half of the quarter as stores began reopening. For the entire fiscal second quarter, same-store sales declined 4.2% compared with a year earlier.

— Helen of Troy, whose brands include OXO, Hydro Flask and Vicks, is reporting its fiscal first-quarter sales increased 11.8%. Online sales rose about 33%. Sales for the health and home segment climbed 29%. Beauty sales rose 5%, including Drybar.

TRAVEL & LEISURE:

— The CEO of Delta Air Lines said Thursday that the surge of coronavirus cases in the Sun Belt and quarantine restrictions in northern states make the airline more cautious about adding flights. Ed Bastian told employees the recovery in air travel “is likely to be lengthy and slow,” and he encouraged them to take buyouts and early retirement to limit the need for furloughs as the airline shrinks. This month, Delta is operating about 30% of the flights it flew last July.

— Carnival Corp.’s AIDA Cruises will restart sailings next month. The German cruise line will have three ships making trips: the AIDAperla will be the first to set sail on Aug. 5 from Hamburg; the AIDAmar will depart from Rostock-Warnemünde on Aug. 12 and AIDAblu will leave from Kiel on Aug. 16. Bookings are now available for interested travelers.

The first cruises will take place with an adjusted passenger capacity and without calling at another port.

— Motorcycle maker Harley Davidson will eliminate 700 jobs worldwide as part of a major restructuring plan. The job losses include 500 current employees and 200 unfilled positions. The restructuring will cost about $50 million, including $42 million this quarter.

— Churchill Downs is planning to reopen part of the Oxford Casino Hotel in Oxford, Maine on Thursday. Slot machines will be available upon reopening. Table games and food and beverage offerings as well as the hotel and event center will be available at a later date.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS:

— Belgium government’s health advisers are recommending making the wearing of face masks in shops mandatory to keep the spread of the coronavirus at its current low level.

Among the measures adopted to fight the virus, the Belgian government has made the use of masks compulsory in public transports but customers still have the option to run errands without any protection.

The Health superior council said it would make sense to make masks a requirement in shops too as physical distancing is often impossible in stores.

— Greek authorities say they are ready to reimpose public and travel restrictions next week, warning that safety guidance for COVID-19 is being frequently ignored.

Stelios Petsas, the government spokesman, said that the government was likely to announce new restrictions if needed on Monday.

Cases in Greece have crept up since restrictions were lifted and international travel resumed in recent weeks.

Pestas said authorities were focused on the rising number of cases in nearby Balkan countries and tourists who have traveled to Greece over the land border with Bulgaria, at the single crossing point that has been opened to non-essential travel.

— Wells Fargo is rolling out a new fund that will help provide capital, technical support, and long-term resiliency programs to small businesses, with an emphasis on those that are minority-owned businesses.

Wells Fargo will be donating approximately $400 million in processing fees to assist small businesses in need through the Open for Business Fund.

The fund is currently accepting applications from community development financial institutions and special purpose funds formed by CDFIs serving racially and ethnically diverse small businesses for its first grant cycle, open now through Aug. 7. Additional grant cycles focused on technical assistance and recovery and resiliency will open later this year.

MARKETS: Stocks are slumping on Wall Street Thursday after a report suggested layoffs continue to ease up across the country, but also that the pace of improvements may be stalling. More than 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, still a historically high pace though down from a week earlier.