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J.C. Penney to begin 154 store closings, including 5 in Illinois

FILE - In this May 8, 2020, file photo, a J.C. Penney store sits closed in Roseville, Mich. The retailer plans to start closing 154 stores next week.
FILE - In this May 8, 2020, file photo, a J.C. Penney store sits closed in Roseville, Mich. The retailer plans to start closing 154 stores next week. (Paul Sancya/AP)

J.C. Penney will begin closing 154 of its stores next week in what it is calling the first phase of its efforts to shrink its footprint.

The Plano, Texas-based retailer on Thursday said it could take about 10 to 16 weeks to complete the closures. A list of the stores closing was published on Penney’s website and includes five Illinois locations — River Oaks Shopping Center in Calumet City, Bourbonnais, Carbondale, Freeport and Mount Vernon.

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Penney filed for bankruptcy protection last month, making it the biggest retailer to do since the coronavirus pandemic forced non-essential stores to be shut down temporarily. J.Crew and Neiman Marcus sought bankruptcy protection days before J.C. Penney. All three were laden with debt and had trouble connecting with shoppers, who are increasingly skipping the mall and shopping online.

As part of its bankruptcy reorganization, Penney said it planned to permanently close nearly a third of its 846 stores in the next two years. That would leave it with just over 600 locations.

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