Penney starts opening doors in phased reopening plan

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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JC Penney exterior

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is including social distancing, hygiene measures, and contactless payment in its store reopening protocols.

The struggling department store retailer, which is reportedly approaching filing for bankruptcy, is gradually reopening its doors. As of Friday, May 8, 16 J.C. Penney stores across Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are open for in-store shopping and contactless curbside pickup. Fifteen stores across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia are open for contactless curbside pickup only. Click here for a real-time list.

Penney said it has closely monitored health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to inform its reopening practices. New in-store safety protocols include Plexiglass shields at each register in use, associates wearing face coverings, social distancing procedures with reminders throughout the store, and hand sanitizer available for customer and associate use. 

The company has also adjusted store hours and is doing “diligent” cleaning throughout the day, paying extra attention to frequently touched surfaces. It will also limit numbers of customers in stores, based on state and local mandates.

Customers who prefer contactless checkout can make their in-store purchases via the J.C. Penney app, using a mobile wallet payment, and receive their receipt by email.

In addition, all reopened stores now feature contact-free curbside pickup. To use this service, customers shop at the J.C. Penney website and select free “same day pick up.” The retailer will notify customers when their order is ready. Then customers pull up to a reserved parking spot, call, and a store associate wearing personal protective equipment will place the order in their car.

For online shoppers, J.C. Penney is now offering free shipping on orders of $49 or more, and has revamped its e-commerce site and mobile app. The retailer has extended its flexible return policy for an additional 30 days, once a customer’s local store reopens, and the window to use rewards by 60 days. In addition, customers can send returns for online purchases via mail following instructions listed on J.C. Penney’s website.

“Please know how honored we are to be part of your community and that you choose to shop J.C. Penney,” said CEO Jill Soltau. “In these difficult times, we look forward to welcoming you back and once again offering you quality merchandise at a value as our stores begin to reopen across America.”