businessRetail

J.C. Penney adds new home brands in time for a hopeful holiday exit from bankruptcy

Even as the retail chain closes stores later this month, its executives are making plans for the holiday season.

Even with its bankruptcy exit still not final, J.C. Penney is attracting new national brands to get ready for a holiday shopping season that’ll begin earlier than usual.

Penney’s new brands are mostly in its home department, which is where Americans have been spending money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plano-based Penney plans to exit bankruptcy this year so it has to stay in the game. It responded to Amazon Prime Day with its own Cyber Days Monday through Wednesday.

Retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others are moving up Black Friday discounts to compete with Prime Day. The two-day Prime Day was delayed from its usual mid-summer dates as even Amazon was overwhelmed with new demand from shoppers who were staying at home due to the coronavirus. This year, Amazon’s Tuesday and Wednesday U.S. sales are expected to exceed $6 billion, up from $4.4 billion last year, according to eMarketer.

In a statement, Penney CEO Jill Soltau said her team is "working to secure partnerships with new national brands and to expand our product offerings as part of our efforts to provide compelling merchandise and deliver an engaging shopping experience to our customers.” She has declined interview requests during the bankruptcy.

Among Penney’s new brands announced Monday are Schott Zwiesel wine glasses and Luminarc glassware, Cambridge flatware and Nordic Ware cookware. Those brands are also sold at specialty stores Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Bed Bath & Beyond and direct competitor in the mall, Macy’s. New brands include Taste of Home cooking magazine bakeware, which is also sold at Macy’s and on Amazon.

Penney expanded its wellness and personal care brands with Philips Sonicare toothbrushes and SensorPedic pillows and mattress toppers.

Other brands it already sells, Cuisinart, PowerXL, Pure Enrichment, and Sharper Image, have added new products. The big toy brands, Lego, Mattel, Fisher Price and Disney Collection, are back for Christmas.

“Penney has to communicate to its customers if it has any intention of competing for this holiday business,” said Ed Fox, marketing professor at Southern Methodist University. “This is the time of the year when there’s demand.”

Penney has a strong online business, with sales last year of $1.5 billion, and Soltau now calls jcp.com the retailer’s flagship store.

The department store chain is in the process of closing 150 locations by Oct. 23 that it first identified in June. Collin Creek Mall in Plano will be closed after Friday and Sunday is the last day for stores in Dallas’ Timber Creek Crossing and Lewisville’s Music City Mall.

Penney will still operate 15 stores in North Texas after those closings, although it still can reject leases as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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Maria Halkias, Staff writer. Maria Halkias has covered the retail scene for The Dallas Morning News since 1993.

mhalkias@dallasnews.com /maria.halkias @MariaHalkias Instagram Iconmariahalkias LinkedIn Iconhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/MariaHalkias
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