JCPenney, which filed for bankruptcy just two weeks ago, is in the process of reopening hundreds of stores.
The retailer said that it reopened its doors at 150 stores in 27 states. The stores had been closed because of health concerns and stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly reopened JCPenney stores brought the company’s total to 304 reopened stores. It expects to have 500 stores opened by Wednesday June 3.
But the reopenings come at the same time it is planning to permanently close many stores to stem the losses that led to the bankruptcy filing. The day after the bankruptcy filing it announced plans to close 192 stores this year, although it has yet to identify which stores. The company plans to close another 50 stores next year.
JCPenney, along with other department store chains, shut all stores in mid-March. It started reopening a few dozen stores a week before the May 15 bankruptcy filing, and it opened more than 100 stores the week after the filing.
The company said it is taking necessary steps to protect both employees and shoppers at the reopened stores. The company says it is providing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, staggering shift schedules to minimize associates’ contact, enhancing store cleaning with a focus on high-touch areas, and adding plexiglass shields at registers, along with social distancing and safety signage. It is also having curbside pickup at all reopened locations.
Still JCPenney and department stores in general have had difficulties dealing with both customers’ shift to buying more items online, and with online pickup offerings at big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target. Both chains, which remained open during the pandemic because they sold essential items such as food, have report a large increase in their online sales.
JCPenney is one of several national retailers to file for bankruptcy just this month. On May 4, clothing retailer J.Crew filed for bankruptcy, followed by a filing from Neiman Marcus on May 7. On May 10, Stage Stores filed for bankruptcy and discount home goods chain Tuesday Morning filed this week.
A bankruptcy filing does not necessarily mean a company will go out of business. Many have used bankruptcy to shed debt and close unprofitable operations which eventually led them to financial success. But not every company that enters bankruptcy intending to stay in business survives the process.