J.C. Penney Co. is delaying by about a month the closing of 138 stores, including three stores in Middle Georgia.
The department store chain announced in February that it planned to close up to 140 stores and then identified the closure locations in mid-March. It had planned to close its stores in Macon, Milledgeville and Dublin in mid-June. Other stores in Georgia to close are in Thomasville and Tifton. The store at the Houston County Galleria in Centerville is not slated to close.
But the company has changed its plans slightly.
“The company has rescheduled liquidation at closing store locations from April 17 to May 22,” according to an email statement from Joey Thomas with the company’s corporate communications and public relations department. “Subsequently, these stores will now close on July 31 rather than mid-June.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Since announcing store closures, affected locations have seen better than expected sales and traffic, which is common when store closures are announced,” Thomas said. “Traffic typically increases in closing store locations for a variety of reasons, including curiosity, nostalgia and the lure of lower prices. Meanwhile, it’s advantageous for the company to continue selling through spring and summer merchandise at current promotional levels by pushing liquidation back another month.”
In the first announcement, the company said that 5,000 positions nationwide would be affected by the closures. In Middle Georgia, about 85 people work at the Macon store, about 30 in Milledgeville and about 20 in Dublin.
Penney’s is one of several retailers to announce closures in the past two years.
Macy’s Inc. was one of the first major retailers last year to announce a large number of its stores would close. It closed 39 stores last year and another 68 are expected to close this year. Macy’s only Middle Georgia store is at Macon Mall.
When Penney’s closes, Macy’s will be the only one of six original major anchors remaining at Macon Mall after a major renovation was done in 1997 at the mall, which opened in the mid-1970s. A Parisian store closed in 2007 and Dillard’s closed in 2008. Belk closed in October 2012, just months after Sears announced it would close its store in 2011.
Burlington Stores in fall 2015 moved into the space at the mall formerly occupied by Sears. Burlington moved to Macon Mall from the former Westgate Mall on Pio Nono Avenue.