What happened

Shares of upscale retailer Nordstrom (JWN -0.34%) were down on Tuesday morning, after the company said it will temporarily close its stores in the U.S. and Canada in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

As of 10:45 a.m. EDT, Nordstrom's shares were down about 7% from Monday's closing price. 

So what

In a statement disclosing the store closings, Nordstrom said that it has withdrawn the full-year guidance to investors that it issued on March 3. 

While February sales trends were in line with management's expectations, it said, things went downhill rapidly in the first two weeks of March, particularly in the regions most affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

A Nordstrom sign on the outside of a store.

Image source: Nordstrom.

CEO Erik Nordstrom emphasized that Nordstrom's balance sheet and financial position remain strong, and expressed confidence that the company will weather the disruption.

"During this unprecedented period of uncertainty, we have in place the appropriate business continuity plans, operational framework and team," Nordstrom said.

Now what

The company reiterated that its online stores remain open, and said that order pickup and curbside services will continue to be available at its full-line stores. The company also remains committed to its previously announced cost-reduction plan and pledged to remain disciplined on inventory management and expenses.

But because of the current economic uncertainty, the company will make further cuts to its capital expenditure and spending plans, and it will suspend its share-buyback program for the time being.