While JCPenney has, in many ways, withstood the test of time, it's not immune from the challenges that have felled other department stores. The 121-year-old retailer has faced ongoing issues in recent years, even filing for bankruptcy and closing 200 stores after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. As with Bed Bath&Beyond and Macy's, it now finds itself in "the mushy middle," retail experts told NPR, meaning it doesn't have a unique online presence, but also doesn't have a "big-box" label, where shoppers know they're scoring an awesome deal. Even with an improving economy, things still aren't looking great, as JCPenney is shuttering more stores. Read on to find out which JCPenney locations are closing this spring, with liquidations starting next month.
The first JCPenney to close will start liquidating next month.
A JCPenney in Elkhart, Indiana, is on the chopping block, according to NBC-affiliate WDNU. The store has been a staple in Concord Mall since 1976, but it will see its final day this spring.
"JCPenney has kind of always been one of those places that has always helped to bring people to that area, even if they weren't going to the mall, they were going to JC Penney," Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President Levon Johnson told the outlet.
Concord Mall has had five different owners in recent years, Johnson said, citing lease pricing negotiations as the primary reason for the closure. "Little bit of a surprise, you know they've recently invested, in the last six months a great deal of money in the renovation and lighting in the store," he added.
In a statement to WDNU, JCPenney confirmed the closure, but didn't include any details about lease negotiations.
"Our JCPenney store at the Concord Mall will be closing its doors. The liquidation process will begin this February, with the store closing by May of this year," the statement reads. "The decision to close a store is never an easy one. We are grateful for our dedicated associates and the loyal customers who have shopped at our Elkhart, Indiana location."
New York is losing a JCPenney as well.
In Oswego, New York, another longstanding JCPenney is closing up shop. A store employee confirmed the closure to Oswego County News Now, but didn't provide additional details about when the store would be closing, or how many employees would be affected.
The store, located in Oswego Plaza, has been mainstay since 1977, narrowly escaping closure in 2020, the outlet reported. "They've been saying it would close for years and now I guess it's true," Pat Walsh, an Oswego resident who worked at the store until 2013, told Oswego County News Now.
Still, shoppers are sad to see it go. "That's a shame. I don't know why they can't stay open," customer Bob Nolan said, while Charry Snyder, another Oswego resident, expressed her disappointment as a frequent shopper. "This is the biggest store we have for clothes," she told Oswego County News Now.
Rumors circulated about another closure.
Since summer 2022, the JCPenney location in Pleasanton, California, has kept the rumor mill churning. The store is located in Stoneridge Mall, which was acquired by 300 Venture Group (3VG), The Independent reported in Aug. 2022.
Official plans for the site weren't confirmed at the time, but the new owners called the property "prime real estate." In addition, 3VG said it's looking to "maximize the value" of its investments and is "exploring various scenarios for the property."
Nicholas Bicardo, the broker who represented the seller in the transaction, told The Real Deal that with 3VG at the helm, it's likely the Pleasanton JCPenney will close. Because 3VG is a "provocative buyer," they're more inclined to find other uses for the location.
As of Jan. 17, the Stoneridge Mall location still pops up on JCPenney's store locator page. Best Life reached out to JCPenney for comment on the confirmed closures and the rumored closure, but has not yet heard back.
JCPenney is under new leadership and trying to make proactive changes.
According to a report from CNN Business in Nov. 2022, JCPenney is attempting to "make a comeback" under CEO Marc Rosen, who took over in 2021.
"I believe in taking on large scale transformation," Rosen told CNN Business in a video interview. "There was an opportunity to really take this brand and make it relevant again."
The department store recently ended a partnership with beauty retailer Sephora, but under Rosen, the company has remodeled brick-and-mortar locations, introduced new brands, and also improved its online experience, CNN Business reported. The CEO confirmed that these strategies had successfully drawn more customers to JCPenney ahead of the 2022 holiday shopping season.