Store image via JCPenney

published on May 15, 2020 - 5:51 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

JCPenney announced late Friday that it was filing for bankruptcy protection, with plans to reorganize itself with $900 million in financing.

The Texas-based retailer also announced it would be closing an undisclosed number of stores as part of the effort to right itself. With about 850 stores across the U.S., it is one of the nation’s largest and oldest apparel and home retailers.

“Stores will close in phases throughout the Chapter 11 process – and the first phase of closures, including specific store details and timing, will be disclosed in the coming weeks,” according to a news release from JCPenney.

There are four JCPenney locations in the Central Valley — Selma, Fresno’s Fashion Fair Mall, the Visalia Mall and the Hanford Mall, according to the JCPenney website.

The bankruptcy announcement comes two months into the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted shelter-in-place orders that shut down much of the U.S. economy. Some states are starting to reopen stores, and others, including California, just recently started allowing curbside pickup from retail stores.

Observers believed JCPenney might avoid a bankruptcy filing, as the company made a $17 million interest payment Friday after skipping last week’s payment. A non-payment would have put Penney into default. Penney skipped an earlier interest payment of $12 million in mid-April, kicking off a 30-day grace period.

Central Valley JCPenney stores missed a previous raft of store closures in 2017.

Central Valley locations avoid list of 39 endangered J.C. Penney stores

Retail data released Friday offered one of the first glimpses of just how devastating the economic shutdown has been. U.S. retail sales tumbled a record 16.4% from March to April. But clothing stores really took it on the chin, with sales falling 79%.

JCPenney is the fourth major retailer to file for bankruptcy this month. J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and Stage Stores are in Chapter 11 already.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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