Coronavirus: J.C. Penney could seek bankruptcy protection within days, report says

Coronavirus: J.C. Penney could seek bankruptcy protection within days, report says
A customer enters a J.C. Penney store on November 20, 2013, in Daly City, California. The 118-year-old department store chain plans to file for bankruptcy protection in the wake of the novel coronvirus pandemic. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is expected to file for bankruptcy as early as next week, becoming the latest U.S. retailer to crumble under the financial weight of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

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Despite its iconic 118-year legacy, Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney was already struggling with a roughly $4 billion debt load and increased competition from online retailers before the virus forced widespread stay-at-home orders, crippling what remained of foot traffic.

By seeking reorganization protection, however, company officials are hopeful they can shutter roughly one-quarter of the department store chain’s 850 stores and move forward with a leaner model, Reuters reported.

It was not immediately clear how many of J.C. Penney’s estimated 85,000 employees will be affected by bankruptcy proceedings should plans to close 200 stores proceed. The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed Friday that 20.5 million jobs were shed nationwide in the month of April alone.

According to CNBC, J.C. Penney reported $10.7 billion in net sales in 2019, down 8.1% from the year prior.