Black Thursday

Hundreds of shoppers flow into JC Penney on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, for the 2 p.m. opening at Greenwood Mall.

Bowling Green’s JC Penney store has survived the first round of its bankrupt parent company’s restructuring plan.

Texas-based JC Penney announced Thursday a list of the 154 stores across 38 states that will close this summer after liquidation sales that are expected to begin June 12. When the retail chain first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 15, it said it would close 242 of its 860 stores.

In a news release announcing the closures, the company indicated that more store closures could be announced in coming weeks. According to the news release, JC Penney “intends to reduce its store footprint and focus resources on its strongest stores” and its e-commerce store, jcp.com.

For now, the Bowling Green store that is one of the anchors of the Greenwood Mall is being spared. Other Kentucky JC Penney stores weren’t so fortunate.

A list on the company’s website indicates that JC Penney stores in Campbellsville, Danville, Hopkinsville, Maysville, Middlesboro and Owensboro are among those that will soon be having going-out-of-business sales.

It’s all part of a strategy to save the 118-year-old department store chain that has been hammered in recent years by a trend toward online shopping and in recent months by the coronavirus pandemic.

“While closing stores is always an extremely difficult decision, our store optimization strategy is vital to ensuring we emerge from both Chapter 11 and the COVID-19 pandemic as a stronger retailer with greater financial flexibility to allow us to continue serving our loyal customers for decades to come,” said Jill Soltau, JC Penney’s CEO.

In the news release, Soltau said: “We have reopened nearly 500 stores since government officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions and we look forward to opening more.”

The Bowling Green JC Penney store reopened this week, and the announcement that it is not among the stores scheduled for closure was a reprieve for the Greenwood Mall.

The mall, which is seeing retailers slowly reopen as state social distancing restrictions are lifted, is still recovering from the 2018 closing of its Sears anchor store.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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