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Another Retailer Topples in Pandemic: JCPenney

Chain files for bankruptcy protection
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2020 6:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – The coronavirus pandemic has pushed troubled department store chain JCPenney into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, per the AP. It's the fourth major retailer to meet that fate. As part of its reorganization, the 118-year-old company said late Friday it will be closing some of its stores and will disclose details and timing in the coming weeks. The company operates 850 stores and it has nearly 90,000 workers. It said that it received $900 million in financing to help it operate during the restructuring. JCPenney joins luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, and Stage Stores in filing for bankruptcy reorganization. Plenty of other retailers are expected to follow. Many experts are pessimistic about JCPenney's survival even as it sheds its debt and shrinks the number of its stores.

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Its fashion and home offerings haven't stood out for years. And moreover, its middle-to-low-income customers have been the hardest hit by massive layoffs during the pandemic. Many of them will likely shop more at discounters—if they shop at all, analysts say. "This is a long, sad story," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, a retail research firm. "Penney offers no reason to shop there compared to its competitors, whether it's Macy’s or TJ Maxx or Walmart. How are they going to survive?" The company's roots began in 1902 when James Cash Penney started a dry good store in Kemmerer, Wyo. The retailer had focused its stores in downtown areas but expanded into suburban shopping malls as they became more popular starting in the 1960s. With that expansion, Penney added appliances, hair salons, and portrait studios.

(Read more JCPenney stories.)

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