The Drive-Thru: Macy’s layoffs and store closures, South Korean Costco, and coronavirus hits delivery

Subway cut hundreds of jobs at its corporate headquarters.

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Subway cut hundreds of jobs at its corporate headquarters.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hello!

Welcome to another week of The Drive-Thru, Business Insider’s weekly roundup of the biggest stories in restaurants and retail.

If this is your first time reading The Drive-Thru, welcome! I’m Shoshy Ciment, junior reporter here on the retail desk, and I am honored to be the first person to tell you to subscribe to a newsletter that will certainly change your life for the better.

This week on The Drive-Thru, we’ve got it all: layoffs, store closures, and coronavirus. But luckily, it’s not all depressing in the retail world this week. Keep reading to see what it’s like to shop and eat at Costco in South Korea.

And lastly, here’s another reminder to sign up to get The Drive-Thru in your inbox every week!

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Okay, enough of that. Here’s what you need to know.

Macy’s plots its future amid struggles

Northgate Mall Macys

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Macy’s announced this week it plans to close 125 stores, or one-fifth of the retailer’s locations, and cut 2,000 corporate jobs.

The department-store chain is closing its offices in San Francisco, downtown Cincinnati, and Lorain, Ohio, as well as a customer contact center in Tempe, Arizona. It’s also making New York City its sole corporate headquarters.

Mary got her hands on the email sent to Macy’s employees on Tuesday by the company’s CTO Naveen Krishna, who laid out the plan for his department and explained the changes that were necessary to revamp the business.

“While this is where we need to go for the business, this is also very difficult because the changes we are making impact our colleagues,” Krishna wrote.

Why all the change? The company says it’s all part of a three-year turnaround plan to improve business. Bethany broke down the company’s five-pronged approach, which includes a focus on its customer loyalty program, experimental concept stores, corporate office downsizing, and investments in digital programs.

Coronavirus hits delivery

A contactless Pizza Hut delivery worker in China.

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A contactless Pizza Hut delivery worker in China.
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Yum China

Coronavirus worries are reaching a fever pitch in China. The quarantined city of Wuhan, where the disease originated, has essentially become a ghost town.

KFC and Pizza Hut have even launched a contactless delivery service in some locations in China to prevent any further spreading, Priscilla reported.

Retailers in China are continuing to close their doors temporarily. And, companies are saying that the virus could significantly impact their business.

An Adidas spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday that the company would temporarily close a “considerable” number of stores in China, saying that there would be a “negative impact” on business in the region.

For a full list of store closures in China, read more.

In South Korea, panic is prompting surgical masks to sell out at Costco.

BI heads to Asia

seoul subway

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Kate Taylor/Business Insider

On the first stop of her two-month reporting trip in Asia, Kate flew to Seoul, South Korea.

She hasn’t been there long, but she’s already checked out Starbucks, McDonald’s, and, of course, Costco, which sells fresh octopus. In the warehouse store’s food court, she got to eat some dishes you can’t get in the US, like sea snail porridge and beef bulgogi. Needless to say, she was impressed.

Kate also stopped by a Korean chain called Isaac Toast, which turned out to be aptly named. The chain only makes toast, yet people line up for hours to nab a sandwich. Kate had to try it for herself to see why.

The big picture: There were almost 20 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Korea as of Thursday. Amid her fast-food journey, Kate had time to consider the atmosphere in South Korea, which she said was one of intense preparedness. She said she was shocked at how the country seemed to spring into action to prevent the disease’s spread with warning signs and masks.

Taste test of the week: Chicago’s most famous hot dog chain

Portillos Chicago hot dog meal

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Irene Jiang/Business Insider

On her trip to Chicago, Irene stopped by Portillo’s, the most famous hot dog chain in Chicago.

Though Irene was overwhelmed by the store’s decor at first, she was overall satisfied with her meal, which she described as “cheap, classic, and delicious.”

Irene said that she had lived in Chicago for four years and had managed to never try a Chicago-style hot dog until then.

Luckily, she said, her first one at Portillo’s made her a convert.

Read the full taste test here.

Everything else you need to know: