Macy's Sees International Tourists Spending Despite Policy Fears

(Bloomberg) -- Retailers may finally be welcoming back a lapsed group of key shoppers: international tourists.

Spending from overseas visitors rose almost 10 percent in the first quarter ended May 5, Macy’s Inc. Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet said on a conference call Wednesday. That was only the second increase since 2014, she said. Shoppers are flocking to Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in San Francisco, New York and Florida in particular, according to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette.

“We see it continuing,” he said in a phone interview, adding that the return of tourist spending at Macy’s began improving late last year. “What’s interesting is just how broad-based it is.”

Macy's Sees International Tourists Spending Despite Policy Fears

Tourism shopping, an important business especially for Macy’s flagship Herald Square store, had suffered as the U.S. dollar strengthened against other currencies. Retailers also feared White House policies and amped up rhetoric on trade and immigration would deter some visitors from taking U.S. vacations. Last year, the U.S. was expected to record a second straight decline in international visitors, according to the Department of Commerce. That figure is expected to return to growth this year.

Shoppers from China, Mexico, the U.K., Canada and Brazil make up the retailer’s top five tourism markets, Macy’s said in an e-mail. International visitors are especially important because they spend about four times as much as an average domestic tourist, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism agency.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.