Is JC Penney Going To Close Some Of Its Stores?

This is rumor only, folks, but a tipster tells us that JC Penney plans on closing 11 stores this year, and that they’re freezing salaries on all employees. The retailer isn’t doing as badly as some of its competitors—it has no debt maturing in 2009, for example, and plans to have $2 billion in cash on hand at the end of this month—but considering CEO Mike Ullman has said he’s planning business conservatively for 2009, it wouldn’t be that surprising if it turns out to be true.

Here’s the rumor. We looked for a list of store closings but couldn’t find anything, so if we come across more info later to prove/disprove this we’ll add it.

[Last Wednesday] JC Penney announced to employees they will be closing 11 stores in the eastern US, and [last Friday] announced an immediate year-long freeze on all pay raises from its corporate big-wigs all the way to part time cashiers.

Both announcements were made in store meetings where attendance was mandatory.

Employees at my local store are devastated and see it as only a matter of time before they’re let go. Most have stated they will be looking for a new job ASAP, and most who were close to a raise are demoralized and bitter. I’d expect a mass exodus of disgruntled Penney’s employees pretty soon.

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  1. downwithmonstercable says:

    Do people still shop at JC Penny? I can’t remember the last time I was even in one. Seems like they’d go down with Macy’s, Sears, and other similar stores just steps away inside a mall.

    • chiieddy says:

      @downwithmonstercable: They actually have really good deals in their jewelry department every so often.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @downwithmonstercable: Penney’s is probably the best of those stores, and they routinely have pretty good deals. I’m not a big fan of department stores, but Penney’s isn’t bad.

      I swear I read somewhere that the store credit card more millionaires have than any other is a Penney’s card.

      • downwithmonstercable says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: Huh. Maybe I should give them a chance? I dunno why I haven’t ever really been there. I think I’m trying to cling to my mid 20′s age that is slipping away. Thus I still stop by American Eagle, Old Navy, and the like. Maybe it’s time to make the jump to grown up clothes. If Gap doesn’t go bankrupt maybe I’ll look in there. Or maybe Martin – Osa.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @downwithmonstercable: I don’t really shop Penney’s for fashion, but for plain blue jeans, or a nice raincoat, or men’s dress shirts, or a black pencil skirt for work, I’ve done well there in the past. (I tend to shop at Bergner’s these days for a department store only because it’s much closer to my house — I can literally walk there.)

          But I’ll tell ya, I’m 30 and pregnant and if it weren’t for Old Navy maternity, I WOULD BE NAKED. You don’t have to give up Old Navy yet! Old Navy is the only maternity section that thinks, “Hey, I bet if she wore casual pants and fitted Ts before she was pregnant, that’s what she’d like to wear WHILE pregnant, instead of dressing like a giant floral merangue!”

          • Chris Walters says:

            @Eyebrows McGee: Have you considered the Snuggie? That seems like it would be comfortable. The television tells me so.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @Chris Walters: ROTFLMAO.

              I think my sister is getting my husband one for his birthday, since he never stops whining about being cold. :D But I bet it would work as pregnancy clothes too!

      • YardanCabaret says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: I think you’re thinking of “The Millionaire Next Door”. Where they mention something like that. I can’t remember if it was Penney’s but for sure it was one of those mid range retailers you wouldn’t have thought it was.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @downwithmonstercable: You can often get the same T-shirts that Hot Topic sells at Penny’s for half the price. I buy video game shirts and Penny’s stocks them frequently, and they are usually on sale for 12.99 or 9.99, and Hot Topic’s shirts cost 18-25$ with the prices steadily increasing. I have a pair of jeans from Penny’s too and they have lasted me at least 3 years.

    • theblackdog says:

      @downwithmonstercable: I do like to hit them up for blue jean deals when they have them on Arizona jeans. Those are comfy!

    • fever says:

      @downwithmonstercable: I scored $125 off of my Casio Pathfinder watch, and that was before my girlfriend’s discount. They also carry Van Heusen dress shirts, which are cheap, decent, and come in a large selection of colors.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @fever: OH, I’m a big Van Heusen fan, especially when they’re on sale. My husband is very thin and very tall (6’4″, 175ish), so he has to get mediums for length but then they’re always blousey from having too much width. The Van Heusens are nice enough to wear to court, but cheap enough that I’m comfortable altering them myself and not freaking out if I screw one up.

        (taking in the side seams a couple inches is really easy … in fact, we had a consumerist thread on it a year or two back!)

    • Fenders-Stratosphere says:

      @downwithmonstercable: Over here in PA we have a Penney’s Outlet and it has great deals. I had two $250 gift cards for Penney’s (saving up dog food weight circles…lol) and I went to the Outlet. I walked out with THREE completely full shopping carts of jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, dress shirts, slacks, and even a DVD recorder and at the end I only paid $6 and some change. Only one pair of the jeans had a small hole in them way up by the top watch pocket that was easily fixed. I passed most of the clothes onto my daughter (bought them 3 years ago) and they’re still going strong. Many of the clothes were brand name with only a small mis-stich or other really totally unnoticable flaw and they’ve lasted a really long time. I hope that they don’t get rid of my Outlet….it’s really a great place for quality clothing for work and play for lower prices.

  2. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    There’s a sale of Penney’s!

    /obligatory

  3. Truthie says:

    JCPenney is one of the better-run retailers (they had a pretty big turnaround a few years ago), so I would not be surprised if they were being somewhat proactive in their response to the financial crisis. Given that they have been pretty value-oriented for a few years and don’t relay too much on trendy or big-ticket home items, I would guess they are not as badly hit as some other retailers.

  4. PittDragon says:

    I’m surprised JCPenney has to close some of its stores. It’s Supply Chain System with TAL is insanely efficent and cost effective, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @PittDragon: Ahh that answers my above question. Gotta love the efficient supply chains. You’d think that Gap and those similar stores would’ve learned how to do that by now.

  5. hollywood2590 says:

    I can’t speak for the store closings, but the freeze on pay raises is true. My gf works there and has already been informed that her salary will not be changing anytime soon. Of course she got better job elsewhere, but that’s beside the point. Salary freeze is more than just a rumor.

  6. pixiegirl1 says:

    I used to work at a JCPenney’s eons ago when I was a hair dresser. I was lucky since the salon is like it’s own little world inside of the store. I will say I think the quality of merchandise at JCPenney has gone downhill, imo. They used to have pretty decent stuff at great prices, now it’s so-so quality stuff at higher prices.

  7. acasto says:

    This doesn’t surprise me really. My wife was just working there up until New Years. She quit to go back to school to do something in the medical field. Anyways, she was working in jewelery and sales were just terrible this past year.

  8. uconn says:

    You spelled JC Penney wrong

  9. f1rst 1 says:

    Can’t imagine they are hurting too bad, they are opening a brand new store 5 mins from my house in Pleasant Prairie WI (Far SE Wisconsin)
    Looks like a biggie too!

  10. Snarkysnake says:

    JC Penney delivered a huge shock to me the other day that would lead me to believe that something is up.

    I went into a Penney location in Atlanta last week to look for a couple of items for my house. It had been several years since I had last visited one of their stores . Not mad at them or anything, they just dropped off my radar and I got out of the habit of checking them for stuff.Now, it may be many,many more years before I go back (if I do).

    It was astounding. The place was full , crammed , packed with cheap Chinese junk that gave me a warm felling of nostalgia for the WalMart that I visited an hour before. I was amazed. Penney’s goods used to be nice,kinda boring,but well made and a good value. Not this shit. They must have sold their company’s soul for a quick buck and are now indistinguishable from…Hell, from Dollar Tree. Somebody needs to let these guys know that we already have a low end ,vendor of poor quality junk- WalMart (China’s largest trading partner).

    I didn’t spend a single dollar in that place.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @Snarkysnake:

      Yeah. I’m always so disappointed now when I go into Penney’s. It’s not the prices; it’s the quality of clothing that they sell. It’s interesting to me that despite being a college student and valuing a deal like jeans on sale for $19.99 or shirts on sale for as little as $4 I still couldn’t justify buying any of the merchandise.

      You can just visualize most of it ripping apart and fuzzing up in the wash.

      • Snarkysnake says:

        @aguacarbonica:

        Clothes- Yes,definitely. But the furniture,small appliances and cookware looked like they should be sold out of a truck bed at a low end flea market.Does any chain sell ANYTHING worth having that is made in a non slave labor country anymore ?

        Anybody ?

  11. geekinpain says:

    My wife also works at JC Penney and I can confirm both the pay freeze and the increase in benefit costs this year. I did not know that corporate also had a pay freeze but I hope that includes bonus payouts too.

  12. HogwartsAlum says:

    I always used to love their catalog. But I can never find clothing there that fits me (I’m a tall woman).

  13. NotATool says:

    At the risk of violating the comment code … this is not news!

    Most retailers close some stores and open others each year, as a normal course of business. Some stores are unprofitable and shut down. Sometimes new stores are built nearby and the old location is closed.

    11 is a very small number of stores. Where’s the other half of the story — are they opening any stores? Does 11 represent a net loss of stores? Is this really significant?

    • azntg says:

      @NotATool: It’s news to me. Certainly didn’t know that Penney’s was closing a bunch of stores in the East Coast.

      Heh, they’re actually going to open a store in Herald Square. Gotta see how that one turns out.

  14. cromartie says:

    Have they even advertised extensively since they pushed the Arizona Jean Company line?

    They have a nice big and tall selection online, but I haven’t shopped at a B&M one in ages.

    There’s a weird, stand alone JCP in Springfield, IL that looks like it’s been there since the early 1960s. A prime candidate for closure.

  15. West Coast Secessionist says:

    I <3 Penney’s because it evokes warm childhood memories of picking up exciting things ordered from the catalog in the 1980/early 90s. Before Big Box, if you needed a microwave oven or TV in a small town, ordering one from Catalog was the best way to get it.

    It was also my second job at 18, and the always treated me well. I still spend money there, even though a store hasn’t been conveniently located to me since i moved out after high school.

    Some of the clothes today are of mediocre quality, but people aren’t willing to pay much these days so you get what you pay for. Every store is that way. Anybody who thinks Macy’s merchandise is twice as good quality to match its 2x price (compared to JCP) is delusional.

    However, there are also some things there that are great quality such as Levi’s, Arizona, and Lee jeans, Gold Toe socks etc, and pretty much all their dress shirts and trousers.

  16. Outrun1986 says:

    Its not that bad of a store for clothes, although the store IS filled with cheap Chinese junk that just has higher prices than what is sold at Walmart. Yes its supposedly 60% off however that price is jacked up so high that the item will never really come down to a reasonable price to where its worth buying. It seems the past 2-3 years they have been filling it with junk that never sells, not a good business model.

    If you stay away from the junk and go for the clothes on the clearance racks and sale racks its not so bad. They need to stock more clothing (even though what they have now is not so bad) and less junky toys.

  17. quirkyrachel says:

    Penney’s has been having an identity crisis for a year or so. They can’t seem to figure out if they’re competing with Macy’s Carson’s, etc., or with Walmart and Target. I dislike going there now as it feels sort of cheap, and they treat their customers poorly.

  18. Anonymous says:

    JCPenney is NOT closing stores in 2009! In fact, the company is opening at least 9 new stores. All of which open in March! There is also a new JCPenney store opening in Manhattan in the summer of 2009! And more stores are planned to open in October and even more in 2010! So this is definitely a huge rumor.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I do work for JCP and yes the salary freeze did happen. I wasnt affected since I am on commission but from what i heard stores probably arent closing just moving location. IE moving from a 3-story to a 2 story location. There are also still plans to open another 10-12 stores this year including the new one at the Manhattan mall cited as being the biggest in company history.

  20. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    I usually have a hard time finding what I want in the store but JCPenney,com is great. It’s really hard to find women’s clothing in tall sizes but they have a decent selection on their website. It’s also where I get my kid’s school uniform pants at the best price around.

  21. bananaboat says:

    I actually like JCP but I can easily tell them how to cut costs – stop sending snail mail EVERY OTHER DAY on the EVERY OTHER DAY sale! Gee, it’s a joke around the house since they tell us about a new sale EVERY OTHER DAY. We worry when JCP doesn’t send us a flyer every day.

  22. nycaviation says:

    Closing those 11 stores will probably pay the rent of the Manhattan store they’re opening this year.

  23. Brie says:

    There’s a brand-spanking-new JCP a couple of towns over from me. Which is good because when Mervyn’s was shutting down, I was there looking for bargains (and the store was trashed. Trashed) and overheard an older lady saying plaintively, “I just don’t know where I’m going to shop when you close down.” We have a lot of retirement communities here, filled with people who shop these low-to-mid-level stores, and that moment made me sad.

  24. Anonymous says:

    They did in fact freeze the wages of all employees. They have eliminated several jobs too that were high paying. I think that is a very good first step.
    JC Penney worker

  25. Anonymous says:

    My wife works and Penney’s and she doesn’t doubt the store closings, but she also knows of at least 15 new stores being opened. So I would say they are closing stores in places that are not doing well and opening in places they think will do well. Typical business.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’m a Jc Penney employee, and I do see the store closings happening. I’m just surprised it is only 11 stores. My store has had weak sales for the past 6 months. They cut our stock by 30% so we don’t get in a lot of stock now. We aren’t carrying much styles, sizes and colors to items. The workers have had to get their hours cut, including full time workers. They recently remodeled our catalog department and it didn’t make a lot of sense to spend money remodeling when there is no sales and no money for hours for the workers. I suspect this store is either going to close down, or just operate as a catalog store soon. So that would mean many lay-offs. Many customers have even come in the store and told us, we are closing down, moving out and much rumors have circulated around about this. The store Manager and management still insists nothing is going to happen. It is making everyone nervous as things are not looking promising. I suspect many lay-offs are going to happen.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I work at jcpenney’s and I just found out about my pay freeze today. They never told me about it until I heard the rumors and asked my manager. And honesty i am a bit furious.

    -Yours truely,
    Disgruntled Employee