Penney-less: COVID-19's biggest bankruptcy yet

And other tales from retail

May 19, 2020 | Current events
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JC's Penney-less

The 118-year-old, frequently-misspelled clothing giant has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the largest American retailer to do so during the pandemic. Nearly $5 billion in debt, JCPenney intends to reduce its retail footprint and potentially split into both a retailer and real estate company to help make the most of the $900 million in bankruptcy financing it has already secured.

Because retail sales fail

A survey of economists estimated retail sales would drop by roughly 12% in April. Then they plummeted by 16.4%, the largest month-over-month drop ever. While the lows were driven by an 89% drop in the clothing category, even electronics sales were down 60% from the month before.

While grocery prices rise

Supermarket staples reached their highest price point in 46 years, driven by a 4.3% increase in the cost of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. As a result, shoppers may already be penny-pinching among the aisles after weeks of stocking-up, as a jump in store-brand private-label purchases suggests.

Now even department store mannequins need a side hustle

Washington DC's only 3-star Michelin restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington, will adopt an unusual solution for would-be diners at their reduced capacity restaurant: mannequins dressed as patrons to help fill empty tables. While the stated hope is that this will make dining less awkward, it could also reinforce the stereotype that DC's elite enjoy being surrounded by puppets.