J.C. Penney is closing several stores. What does it mean for Fresno and the Valley?

A car drives through a JCPenney department store parking lot at a mall in Hanover, Mass., on July 10, 2015.
A car drives through a JCPenney department store parking lot at a mall in Hanover, Mass., on July 10, 2015. Associated Press file

With sales dropping, J.C. Penney announced that 18 of its department stores and nine furnishing stores will close this year.

The company said the closures are part of “an ongoing review of our store portfolio, which includes assessing locations that may not meet our required financial targets or represent an opportunity to capitalize on a beneficial real estate asset.”

But there’s good news for the Valley. The company confirmed Saturday the Fresno location at Fashion Fair Mall will stay open. J.C. Penney has other stores in Hanford, Selma and Visalia, none of which are closing, the company confirmed.

In the north Valley, the J.C. Penney in Merced will also stay open.

The affected stores are expected to close by the summer.

J.C. Penney’s net sales at the end of 2018 fell 9.5 percent from 2017, dropping from $4.05 billion to $3.67 billion, according to a company news release. The company’s net sales last fiscal year amounted to $11.66 billion, a decrease of 7.1 percent from the previous year.

GAP, Foot Locker

A 7 percent decrease in net sales also transpired at GAP Inc. last year. The company announced that it would close 230 of its stores in the next two years. It also revealed this week it was splitting into two — into the already established Old Navy and a new yet unnamed company that will comprise Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City brands, according to a company news release.

Overall GAP sales in 2018 did show a 1 percent increase from 2017. It’s unclear if the GAP store in Tulare will stay open or close after the company’s latest announcements.

Trina Somera, a spokeswoman for Gap Inc., told The Bee’s sister paper in Modesto that the company has not finalized its list of specific store closures yet. Another company representative said a full list would be available online once it’s finalized. The company has around 800 retail stores in North America, Somera said.

Foot Locker Inc. is also reducing its footprint. The company announced it was closing 165 stores and that it would spend millions to upgrade existing locations. There are two Fresno stores, another in Hanford and one in Visalia. It’s unclear if those are safe from closure. The company could not be reached for comment.

That company said Friday that it actually saw its overall sales and its quarterly sales in 2018 increase, according to a company news release.

“Looking at 2019, we believe that by maintaining our focus on bringing differentiated experiences to youth culture, we can continue to elevate our financial performance by generating a mid-single digit comparable sales gain and another double-digit percentage increase in earnings per share,” said Richard Johnson, the company CEO.

Foot Locker opened 11 new stores, remodeled 33 and closed 56 at the end of 2018.

The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is a general assignment reporter at The Fresno Bee. He grew up in Porterville and has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Fresno State. He is a former student editor at the Fresno State and Fresno City College newspapers. His hobbies include reading, sleeping, running and taking care of his dog.