Department store leaving region’s malls

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette The JCPenney store at Lycoming Mall prepares to close permanently with sales.

The J.C. Penney store in the Lycoming Mall soon will be closing permanently. The local outlet is among 138 J.C. Penney stores in the U.S. shutting doors.

The closures are “part of a continuing effort to advance sustainable growth and long-term profitability,” according to a company news release.

About 5,000 positions are impacted by the store closures.

J.C. Penney stores in Bloomsburg, Towanda and Clearfield also will shut their doors, according to company officials. The closing date for the Lycoming Mall store, which employs 20 associates, is set for mid June. Most stores are expected to shut down in the second quarter of this year. Many of the stores will begin a liquidation process April 17.

“We believe closing stores will allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers,” J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement last month.

J.C. Penney, along with other big-box retailers, including Macy’s, Sears and Kmart, have all announced plans to shut down stores this year.

The Macy’s store in the Lycoming Mall also is permenantly closing, likely within days, and the Kmart store in Bald Eagle Township, Clinton County, will begin its liquidation sale late this month in preparation for shutting its doors.

J.C. Penney officials noted the closures are part of the pressures on brick-and-mortar stores, which increasingly are losing market share to off-price competitors and online retailers. They also underscore the deteriorating economics at lower-quality shopping centers, whose risk of failure rises when an anchor tenant exits.

Local J.C. Penney store officials declined comment.