JCPenney Announces Latest Round of Store Closures

J.C. Penney is about to close more stores come springtime.

After ceasing operations at more than 140 locations throughout the past two years, the department store chain announced plans to shutter the doors of three stores over the next few months as it undergoes a wider evaluation of its brick-and-mortar portfolio. The company operates about 850 stores across the country.

In a press release, J.C. Penney revealed a decline in same-store sales for the holiday shopping season, dropping 3.5 percent on an adjusted basis for the nine-week period ending Jan. 5. (Unshifted, comparable sales decreased 5.4 percent.)

It also reaffirmed earlier guidance to generate positive free cash flow in the 2018 fiscal year as well as proposed intentions to reduce inventory in excess of $225 million, or 8 percent.

The move comes shortly after Jill Soltau took the helm as chief executive officer in October, succeeding Marvin Ellison following his departure for Lowe’s in July. In the past year, the company shut down underperforming stores, deepened its focus on omnichannel offerings and added top-tier brands to its product mix.

J.C. Penney is not alone in its struggle. Although retail appeared to stage a comeback last year, it ended 2018 with record store closures by square footage as consumers increasingly turn to e-commerce giants including Amazon. (The Seattle-based behemoth is now the world’s most valuable public company, ending Monday’s trading session up nearly 3.5 percent with a market capitalization of $796.8 billion.)

A spate of retailers, particularly big-box chains, have shuttered their anchor stores in malls and major shopping areas within the year. Sears has already announced the closing of another 40 locations, while L Brands revealed that it was bidding adieu to all 23 Henri Bendel boutiques.

J.C. Penney is expected to provide more detail about store closures when it reports fourth-quarter earnings at the end of February.

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