Monday, May 18, 2020

JCPenney files for bankruptcy while Kroger ends 'hero pay,' tales of the Retail Apocalypse and COVID-19 pandemic

A year ago January, I embedded a video from Retail Archaeology, in which Erik asked "is JCPenney the next Sears?'" Last week, I found out the answer was yes, as JCPenney joined Neiman Marcus and J. Crew in declaring bankruptcy. NBC News reported that story and more in JCPenney Files For Bankruptcy, Other Stores Ending ‘Hero Pay.’

The retailer has struggled with slowing sales for years with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating its problems. Starting tomorrow, Kroger will end the extra $2 an hour of “hero pay” for essential workers, with other major chains following suit by the end of the month. Kroger will instead offer a new bonus payment of up to $400 for full-time employees and $200 for part-time workers.
It looks like there was a good reason why JCPenney and Macy's also closing stores in 2019, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse was the most read entry of the ninth year of the blog with Company Man on JCPenney's decline updates tales of the Retail Apocalypse for the eighth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News not far behind. My readers could smell JCPenney's blood in the water. They weren't alone. CNBC uploaded How J.C. Penney Is Trying To Make A Comeback last month, which begins and ends with the chain's current challenges with its history in between explaining how the company got to where it is today.

As of April 2020, J.C. Penney saw its shares trading well below $1, and it has long been in danger of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. The fate of the company now rests in the hands of its new CEO, Jill Soltau, who took the reins in October 2018. Soltau plans to revitalize the retailer and bring it back to its roots by focusing on customer service, apparel, and low prices.
I wish Soltau and her company luck. They will need it.

Looking beyond the pandemic and bankruptcy, CNBC Television asked what both mean for the future of retail.

Scott Crowe, of retail investment firm Centersquare, discusses what he believes will be the future of the retail industry.
When I wrote last month that coronavirus was accelerating existing retail trends, it looks like I was more right than I thought.

The employees of Kroger and other grocery chains losing "hero pay" deserves a post of its own. In the meantime, stay tuned for marching music for the 2020 Oregon Democratic primary.


  1. Survival of the fittest...or closest to the administration.

    1. That would set up a fight between Amazon and Walmart. The former is the fittest, while the latter is the favorite of a lot of the administration's supporters, if not the administration itself. I expect they would like Saks or Neiman Marcus.