JCPenney’s closing part of changing retail environment

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JCPenney has announced its Christiansburg location will be one of 138 stores to close this summer, and with the recent closing of the department giant, Kmart, business leaders are starting to wonder if this is the beginning of the end as retail as we know it.


Josephh Kun is the new general manager at New River Valley Mall where JCPenney has been one of the stable retailers since the mall opened in 1988. He came on board about a year ago when CBL & Associates Properties LLC purchased the site from Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, and is optimistic his staff can find a suitable replacement somewhere down the road.

Meanwhile a Virginia Tech economist believes we are seeing a change in the way major companies do business as JCPenney and others shutter their doors, and maybe the start of full-blown evolution of a shopping.

Virginia Tech’s Sudipta Sarangi said JCPenney and Kmart are all casualties of the changing face of retail.

“E-commerce and evolving fashion trends are driving factors. This becomes self-fulfilling. Lower sales make it harder to maintain physical stores,” said Sarangi. “Stock prices also fall making it harder for firms to finance physical operations.

 

“E-commerce and evolving fashion trends are driving factors. This becomes self-fulfilling. Lower sales make it harder to maintain physical stores,” said Sarangi. “Stock prices also fall making it harder for firms to finance physical operations.

Sarangi is a professor and head of the Department of Economics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech. His fields of interest include experimental economics and development economics.

Another reason for more and more online services, according to Sarangi, is the new demographics of shoppers.

“The demographic that shops in Penney’s is different. It’s mostly older folks. Young shoppers prefer online shopping and inventory that is virtually unlimited. Closing stories will help Penney’s more effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers,” he said.

Most JCPenney stores, including the 50,000 square foot store at NRV Mall, will begin liquidation sales April 17 and close in June.

Recently White Barn announced a joint expansion with Bed, Bath and Beyond, which will double the latter’s current square footage for a much larger combined store at NRV Mall.

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