J.C. Penney is reopening more stores that were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic as it also gets ready to permanently shutter some of those locations. The retailer is also requesting rent abatement.
J.C. Penney, which filed for bankruptcy protection on May 15, will start store closing sales at certain locations within weeks, an attorney for Kirkland & Ellis, the firm representing the company, said Thursday at a virtual court hearing. J.C. Penney is expected to close 242 stores during the summer as part of its Chapter 11 restructuring process. Penney has not yet revealed the locations of the stores that will go dark.
The retailer plans to file a store closing procedure motion on June 4, for a hearing set to take place on June 11, at which point it will begin some of the liquidation sales. The company has also requested a rent abatement from all its landlords for the months of June, July and August, the attorney said, reported CNBC.
In other news, J.C. Penney reopened an additional 150 stores across 27 states on Thursday, bringing the total number of stores back in operation after their temporary closure to 304. The company plans to have nearly 500 stores open by June 3.
“We’re operating differently and taking a strategic and consistent approach, keeping associate and customer safety as our top priority,” said Jim DePaul, executive VP of stores at J.C. Penney. “Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as we reopen our doors, focused primarily on our enhanced safety measures. We continue to listen to our associates and customers and make additional adjustments as needed.”
To promote a healthy work and shopping environment, J.C. Penney has staggered shift schedules to minimize employee contact, enhanced store cleaning with a focus on high-touch areas and added plexiglass shields at registers. It also is providing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. An in addition to offering contactless checkout from customers’ mobile devices via barcode, Contact-free curbside pickup is now available in all reopened stores.
Penney is also offering designated shopping hours for at-risk customers at all stores on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon.