Texas-based J.C. Penney announced in January that it was closing six stores as part of a turnaround plan. Then along came a pandemic that closed numerous retailers nationwide for a few weeks as state governors created stay-at-home plans to deal with COVID-19.

Now after filing Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Corpus Christi, Texas, it filed May 18 a plan with the Securities and Exchanges Commission to downsize its 846 stores to 604 in phases. It will close 192 stores in Fiscal Year 2020, with 50 more company-owned stores closed and sold by the second quarter of 2021. It’s part of an effort to rid itself of billions of dollars of debt with about $500 million on hand at the time of its bankruptcy filing.

However, in this “New Normal,” it will continue to sell its products through its website, www.jcpenney.com. And that’s predicted as the wave of the future: less brick-and-mortar and more online sales. The pandemic just hastened what was already coming.

J.C. Penney has a store in Fort Wayne’s Glenbrook Square.

Lisa Esquivel Long is a veteran Fort Wayne journalist and Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly editor. To submit items, send email to llong@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3311.

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