National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

JC Penney closing 33 stores, laying off 2K

January 15, 2014

Plano, Texas--Macy’s is not the only large department store chain that’s letting people go following the holiday season.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. announced late Wednesday that it is closing 33 of its approximately 1,100 stores, which amounts to 3 percent of its locations, and laying off 2,000 workers.

The move will save the company approximately $65 million a year.

The affected stores are located in 20 different states and include stores in Norfolk, Va., the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington, Pa., Chattanooga, Tenn. and Colorado Springs, Colo. A full list of JCPenney stores that will be closing is available here.

Inventory in the affected stores, which are said by the company to be underperforming, will be sold over the next several months, with all locations expected to be closed by early May. Eligible employees who lose their jobs will receive a severance package.

“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to re-examine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” J.C. Penney CEO Myron Ullman III said. “While it’s always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position JCPenney for future success.”

J.C. Penney is the second major department store chain to announce downsizing following the holiday season. Macy’s said Jan. 9 it would be laying off 2,500 employees and closing five stores in the coming months, despite having what it called a successful holiday season.

Macy’s November-December same-store and total sales were up 4 percent. While the retailer is closing some stores and laying off staff in certain departments, it also said it has plans to open five new Macy’s and three Bloomingdale’s stores and add staff in other areas, such as online operations.

J.C. Penney said in a statement issued Jan. 8 that it was “pleased” with its holiday sales but did not release any numbers, raising questions among analysts about its financial performance. The retailer did state that it was standing by its prediction that same-store sales and gross margin would improve year-over-year in fourth quarter.

In addition, the company said Wednesday that it still plans on opening one new store this year, in a new open-air mall development in Brooklyn, N.Y. called Gateway II.