2015 wasn’t a banner year for department store chains. While longstanding franchises like Macy’s tried just about everything to avoid store closures and layoffs, other brands are finding out that the impending doom in brick-and-mortar retail might not be as dire and imminent as once thought.
At least, that’s the case for JCPenney, which The Dallas Morning News reports has adjusted earlier plans to close dozens of stores to a new goal that has just seven storefronts shuttering by mid-April at the latest. While that still gives the retailer plenty of time to close more locations in the rest of 2016, it would put JCPenney on pace to come in under the number of stores closed in 2015 (41) and 2014 (33).
A JCPenney spokesperson told Women’s Wear Daily that the stores being closed comprise less than 1 percent of the entire company’s brick-and-mortar footprint, so the brand is unlikely to miss the sales from these underperforming locations. While some of those customers may simply continue their buying relationship with JCPenney online, the spokesperson did note that the company is expecting to stomach some losses off the bat that should even out as it moves further into 2016.
In fact, JCPenney might be in a better position to enter 2016 like a well-oiled machine — or, at least, one oiled with more holiday sales than its competitors. Reuters reported that JCPenney’s same-store sales in November and December rose by 3.9 percent, and CEO Marvin Ellison explained in a press release that the retailer’s increased emphasis on the digital side of the customer experience also made for a lucrative holiday season for JCPenney.
“Despite unprecedented warm weather that significantly affected apparel sales across the company, our focus on private brands, enhanced omnichannel execution and compelling gift-giving selection resulted in strong holiday sales,” Ellison said in a statement.