Sales for department store chains have not been pretty since stores and malls closed due to the pandemic. Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) is the latest company to report a loss in revenue, and it was a big one.

Nowhere to shop, nothing to spend

Kohl's stores have been closed since the onset of government-imposed business restrictions, and the company's first quarter reflected that, with a 43% decrease in net sales year over year to $2.4 billion. Earnings showed a loss of $495 million, with a loss per share of $3.50. 

Kohl's store.

Image source: Kohl's.

Digital sales, however, pulled some weight with a 24% increase, and that grew to 60% in April. Home was the strongest category, growing 50% in the quarter as customers heeded stay-at-home orders. Other robust categories were beauty, active, and toys.

The company ended the quarter with a strong financial position and $2 billion in cash as around half of its 1,100 stores across the U.S. have started to reopen.

Getting back up again

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kohl's was seeing a resurgence in sales. The company is going ahead with its strategy and changing its product line and the in-store experience for customers while moving forward with many of the digital advances it focused on during the store closure period.

"As we look ahead, we know this experience will have a lasting impact to customer behavior and the retail landscape, and we are evolving our strategies to ensure our relevance and to capture market share," said CEO Michelle Gass.