No word on whether Houston-area JC Penneys will close

JCPenney announced its plans to "optimize its national retail operations" by closing 130 to 140 stores and two distribution facilities over the next few months in an attempt to improve profitability and focus on online retail competition.

"The company will issue a list of closing locations in mid March", said Joey Thomas, a member of corporate communications and public relations for J.C. Penney Co.'s corporate office in Plano, Texas.

But J.C. Penney is far from the only store suffering.

The locations of the stores to be closed were not revealed, but the locations represent about 14 percent of Penney's stores; they produce 5 percent of the revenue. Net sales fell nearly 1 percent in 2016, although the company enjoyed net income of $192 million after having a net loss of $131 million two years ago.

The company also reported earnings that topped Wall Street's expectations, though its comparable sales fell 0.7 percent during the holiday quarter - the third period out of four during the past fiscal year to see slower business.

J.C. Penney is joining other department stores like Macy's who are shrinking its footprint amid challenges in the industry.

CEO Marvin Ellison said downsizing allows the company to work on competing against online retailers. It shut its store at the Camillus Mall in Camillus in 1997.

The company also announced on Friday that is initiating a voluntary early retirement program for approximately 6,000 eligible employees.

In what continues to be a hard time for national brick-and-mortar retailers, two companies with stores in Whatcom County announced it will be closing.

"Our stores are a destination for personalized beauty offerings, a broad array of special sizes, affordable private brands and quality home goods and services", Holland said, emphasizing the importance of the company's brick-and-mortar presence.

The retailer expects to save roughly $200 million a year by closing these stores.

Eillison figures the winning combination will be a "frictionless interaction between stores and e-commerce", while leveraging physical locations to minimize the growing operational costs of delivery. The affected distribution facilities are in Florida and California, but no list of affected stores was provided.

  • Larry Hoffman