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Macy's Fall Doesn't Dictate Retail's Future

Thank goodness the fates of retail and the U.S. economy are not tied to the darkening future of department stores.

Macy's Inc. shares tumbled Thursday after the department-store chain reported sales had fallen in the first quarter from a year earlier, the ninth such quarterly decline in a row. What's worse, the sales drop followed a 6.1 percent decline in the same quarter a year earlier. And instead of concrete plans for fixing Macy's problems, new CEO Jeff Gennette offered trite one-liners about growing e-commerce and "stabilizing" the brick-and-mortar business.

Retail stocks broadly fell on Thursday -- including even Inc. -- as investors worried about what Macy's dismal performance meant for the industry.

A rash of bankruptcies and store closures, along with Amazon's relentless rise, have led to widespread fears about the death of traditional retail. The U.S. has lost more than 50,000 retail jobs in the past three months. And the industry is certainly struggling to keep up with rapid change, as consumers cut back on...