Macy's (NYSE:M) issued first-quarter earnings results on Wednesday that showed mounting pressure on its retail business from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sales fell by more than half, as the company had warned in previous announcements, but the department store giant also revealed massive impairment charges even as its stores reopened for business. Those charges helped push Macy's to a $3.6 billion loss in the first quarter, compared to $136 million of profit a year ago. "The first quarter of 2020 was challenging for the country, the industry, and Macy's," CEO Jeff Gennette said in a press release.

A woman holding shopping bags on an escalator.

Image source: Getty Images.

Without issuing a detailed outlook, the retailer said it expects the pandemic to continue impacting its business through at least the end of 2020. Demand is moving toward online and no-contact services like curbside pickup, for example. "We are meeting our customers how and where they are shopping and have enhanced our fulfillment options," Gennette said.

In the meantime, executives continued to sound an optimistic tone about their liquidity position and the chain's falling expenses. Those will be critical assets as Macy's tries to position itself for a strong finish to a brutal fiscal year.