DALLAS - JC Penney is reportedly exploring bankruptcy in the wake of having to close all of its stores to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The retailer has 850 stores still open but the coronavirus pandemic has forced the company to temporarily close all of them.
RELATED: Coronavirus coverage
Reuters reports the retailer is now considering filing for bankruptcy protection. No final decision has been made, according to the news service report.
JC Penney has been around for 118 years. As a result of the temporary closures, the company has had to furlough some of its 85,000 employees.
Reuters said declaring bankruptcy is one way for the Plano-based chain to stay afloat, by saving money on its looming debt payments and re-working its strained finances.
Even before the coronavirus, JC Penney was struggling to get itself back on firm financial ground.
It’s a challenging retail environment for traditional department stores due to fierce completion in recent years from discount chains like Marshalls and Ross, as well as the rise of online shopping.
Reuters said JC Penney is also looking at options going forward that don’t involve bankruptcy.
All of these deliberations are happening amidst concerns that even when stores do reopen, customers may initially be slow to return.