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Andrea Felsted

J.C. Penney’s Turnaround Is No Match for Covid-19

With its 850 stores closed for now, the storied American retailer is confronting pressing questions about what to do with its huge debt load.

There’s no telling how things look when malls reopen.

There’s no telling how things look when malls reopen.

Photographer: Bloomberg.

Updated on

There is a sad inevitability about U.S. department store J.C. Penney potentially exploring bankruptcy protection. The 118-year-old retailer has enough cash to survive the coming months, but it is looking into a possible bankruptcy filing to restructure its finances, Reuters reported late Tuesday, citing people familiar with the talks. On Wednesday, J.C. Penney said it wouldn’t make a $12 million interest payment due April 15, opting instead to enter into a 30-day grace period as it evaluates its alternatives.

U.S. department stores are highly exposed to the unprecedented shutdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. With a quarter of a million shops closed across America, never before has consumerism been so constrained.