Macy’s Inc.

will furlough the majority of its employees beginning this week as sales have evaporated while its stores remain closed due to the coronavirus.

The department store chain, which employs roughly 130,000 people, told staff on Monday that it would continue to pay health benefits and cover 100% of premiums at least through May. It will keep on some staffers to support its e-commerce operations, distribution and call centers.

All of Macy’s stores have been closed since March 18, and although the retailer has continued to sell online, it has lost most of its sales, the company said.

Other chains, including the parent of Men’s Warehouse, the

Cheesecake Factory Inc.

and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., have furloughed employees, as they scramble to conserve cash.

Six Flags Entertainment Corp.

on Monday said it is cutting full-time employee pay by 25% and reducing hourly workers’ scheduled time by 25% as its parks remain closed until at least mid-May. Executives will also have their base pay reduced by 25%.

The moves will swell the ranks of the U.S. unemployed, which included a record 3.28 million people who filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 21.

The furloughs also show the limits of the $2 trillion rescue package passed by Congress last week.

The White House extends social-distancing guidelines to April 30, bills are due this week for millions of Americans, and while China gradually reopens, India sees a mass exodus of workers leaving cities. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday has the latest on the pandemic. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Tailored Brands Inc.,

which owns the Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A Bank chains, said last week that it would furlough all U.S. store employees as well as a significant portion of employees in its distribution network and offices.

Several hotel chains including Marriott International Inc.,

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

and

Hyatt Hotels Corp.

have furloughed tens of thousands of workers, as most travel plans world-wide grind to a halt.

SeaWorld Entertainment said more than 90% of its employees will be idled effective April 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheesecake Factory closed 27 of the company’s locations and furloughed 41,000 hourly workers, nearly 90% of its total staff.

L Brands Inc.,

which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body works, furloughed most store associates, as well as anyone not involved in e-commerce or who can’t work from home, as of April 5.

Macy’s first tried other measures to conserve cash, including suspending its dividend, drawing down its credit line, delaying the time it takes to pay suppliers and canceling some orders. The company, which operates the Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury chains, told employees that those measures weren’t enough.

It said it plans to bring employees back on a staggered basis once business resumes.

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Write to Suzanne Kapner at Suzanne.Kapner@wsj.com

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