Apr 04, 2019

JC Penney to Shut 27 Stores in the US in 2019; Analysts Believe Number Could Rise Further

Even as well-known department store chain JC Penney is reported to have confirmed that it plans to close 27 stores across the US this year, some sections of the media said that analysts at Moody’s believe that the actual number of stores that shut before the end of 2019 could go much higher.

The company, which recently announced a 4% year-on-year decline in same store sales during the holiday season, in addition to a sales decline of 7.1% during 2018, is said to have listed 18 full line department stores and nine home and furniture stores for closure. According to the media, most of these stores will shut down by July 5, and are already in the process of announcing plans for sales of existing inventory.

While releasing its sales figures for the holiday period, JC Penney said that the stores earmarked for closure “either require significant capital, are minimally cash flow positive today relative to the company's overall consolidated average or represent a real estate monetization opportunity”.

The official announcement did not include an actual list of the stores to be shut, but said that affected employees would receive “separation benefits” and assistance such as resume writing etc. in finding new jobs.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of Moody’s was quoted as saying that the company would “continue to rationalise its store base” as it aimed to boost productivity. The agency has in a recent analysis also said that it believes that the additional closures will be focused on JC Penney stores in about 100 malls with “multiple anchor vacancies”.

Moody’s analysts also reportedly wrote that in addition to closure, JC Penney also needed to increase productivity at the remaining stores, either by reduction in overall size, or even by partly walling off sections to reduce inventory levels.