Retail

US bankruptcy court allows J.C. Penney to keep paying staff and vendors

.C. Penney Co Inc needs to exit bankruptcy proceedings in just a matter of months to survive the unprecedented financial strain of prolonged store closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawyer for the iconic U.S. department store chain said during a court hearing on Saturday. “This company needs to move incredibly quickly through this restructuring. If we don’t, the results could be disastrous,” said Joshua Sussberg, a Kirkland & Ellis LLP lawyer representing the retailer. He unveiled a timeline that foresees the company agreeing to a business plan with lenders by July 15 or else putting itself up for sale. J.C. Penney, which filed for bankruptcy on Friday, has started reopening some of its more than 800 stores in stages, but concerns remain that customers might be slow to return amid health concerns and job losses not seen since the Great Depression. It plans to close many stores permanently in the weeks ahead. Even during less-fraught times, many retailers, including Barneys New York Inc and Toys ‘R’ Us, have failed to reorganize under bankruptcy protection and gone out of business for good. The concern for J.C. Penney’s precarious position was echoed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones, who approved the company’s requests to continue paying workers and vendors delivering merchandise to stores during a hearing following the retailer’s bankruptcy filing in a federal court in Corpus Christi, Texas. “You said it’s fast, but fair. I want you to know that at least my looking at it says it’s not fast enough,” Jones said of J.C. Penney’s plan, encouraging the company to beat its own deadlines. “I am very worried about this. It’s why I’m having a hearing on a Saturday,” the judge said later. He also approved the company using $500 million of its cash on hand. The judge and a parade of lawyers conducted J.C. Penney’s Saturday hearing remotely in proceedings that were live-streamed through video-conference technology as courthouses avoid in-person gatherings. J.C. Penney, which employs roughly 85,000 people, envisions handing control to lenders and reducing a significant portion of its nearly $5 billion of debt after reorganizing into two companies. One would be a company operating its business while the other would be a real estate investment trust holding some of the company’s property, plans previously reported by Reuters. The Plano, Texas-based company reached agreement before its Chapter 11 filing for $450 million of fresh financing from existing lenders. Another $450 million of current debt is to be “rolled up” and given the same legal status as that funding. J.C. Penney’s negotiations are set to continue with investment firms holding its senior debt, which include H/2 Capital Partners LLC, Sixth Street Partners, Ares Management Corp (ARES.N), KKR & Co (KKR.N) and Apollo Global Management Inc (APO.N) , among others, Sussberg said. Sussberg said the company hopes to persuade lenders to support its reorganization, which will require significant funding. “A lot of that’s dependent on performance and unknowns,” he said. Should the company and its lenders fail to agree on a standalone reorganization, J.C. Penney will pursue a sale. It is already in talks with possible buyers, Sussberg said. The company had hoped to give new Chief Executive Jill Soltau, who arrived in late 2018, more time to forge a turnaround by negotiating with creditors for some financial breathing room but those talks did not bear fruit. J.C. Penney was struggling before the pandemic with declining sales and profits amid a consumer shift to online shopping, but Sussberg insisted the company had a turnaround plan in place. Critics pointing to other reasons for the company’s bankruptcy filing are “dead wrong,” he said. “This is absolutely about the coronavirus.” Jones said the company’s 85,000 employees were counting on lawyers at the hearing. “Retail cases have to move, and they have to move quickly,” the judge said. “I want to keep everybody’s eyes focused on saving the business. This is middle America, at least in my view.”

How to Find Out When Hard-to-Find Items Will Be Back in Stock

You thought you had enough toilet paper to last a long time… until you checked in the bathroom and discovered you only have one small roll left. Unfortunately, in most grocery stores across the country, toilet paper might be sold out. So, what do you do? Thankfully, you can set alerts to figure out when these hard-to-find items will be back in stock. If you’re trying to avoid visiting the supermarket or grocery store in person, then ordering groceries and essential products online is a great alternative. However, when products are out of stock, you can’t wait around forever wondering when it will be back in stock again. Thankfully, you can set up an alert that will notify you when a product is back in stock and will be available to be purchased. There are a few different ways to set up alerts depending on the retailer. For example, if you go to Walmart’s website to purchase an item that’s out of stock, you’ll see the “Out of Stock” notification. However, for some products, right next to the “Out of Stock” notification is a blue button that reads “Get In-Stock Alert.” Once you click that alert, you can then submit your e-mail address and Walmart will e-mail you if and when the product is available to purchase. If you’re trying to buy a cleaning product on Amazon but notice it’s no longer in stock, you should see an “Alert Me” box. If this service is available for that particular product, you can click “Sign up,” and Amazon will alert you via e-mail to let you know the product is available. However, Amazon notes that “signing up to be notified does not reserve a copy of this item for you. When you receive the e-mail informing you that the item is available, you’ll need to return to Amazon.com to place your order.” With Target, you’re able to set up notifications or use an app. “When an item is out of stock, we may offer the option to receive notifications when it’s back in stock,” according to Target’s website. “If this is available for an item, the Target.com product details page will display a ‘notify me when it’s back’ button. If you’re using the Target app, it will be a ‘notify me’ button.” Additional information can be found on its website, but Target also notes that “opting in to receive notifications doesn’t reserve or guarantee item availability, so you may want to act fast in the event the item goes out of stock again.” Unfortunately, many stores including Costco, CVS, and Home Depot, don’t provide in-stock alerts.

Walmart, Kroger among grocery stores installing plexiglass barriers, social distancing markers amid outbreak

Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Publix and other major grocery stores are adding physical barriers to keep customers and employees safe during the coronavirus outbreak. In press releases, both Walmart and Kroger shared that supermarkets would be adding temporary plexiglass sneeze guards to pharmacy lanes and checkout counters. Walmart shared the news Tuesday, confirming that all locations across the country will install the plexiglass shields at store registers in the next 2 to 3 weeks. The company will also be installing the barriers at both Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy lanes during the same time period. Kroger, which operates several regional chains such as Ralphs, Smith’s and others, also said it would be adding the sneeze guards on Tuesday to its more than 2,700 stores in the coming weeks, USA Today reported. Publix, too, announced this week it would be installing the guards to its store registers. Albertsons grocery stores, which own and operate supermarket chains including Safeway, Shaws, Star Market and Acme, among others, has already started installing the plexiglass barriers to its checkouts at its 2,200 locations. Installation is reportedly expected to be completed by the end of March. In addition to the sneeze guards meant to protect both customers and employees, the major grocery store chains have also implemented social distancing tools by installing floor decals and waiting points designed to keep people six feet away from each other. “Over the coming days and week we are installing floor decals in our stores at both the entrances and in checkout lanes, making it easier for customers to judge the proper social distance from each other,” a press release from Walmart read. On Monday, Albertsons shared it would be installing designated waiting points via floor markers, to be located throughout the store, and especially places where people congregate, e.g., checkout stands, the bakery and deli section, and the pharmacy. “We have seen our customers begin to implement social distancing on their own with our ‘two carts apart’ reminders as they shop our stores, so we think our floor markers will increase awareness,” said Vivek Sankaran, president & CEO of Alberstons brands. The floor markers will be rolling out in stores in the coming weeks, as well.

A sign of the times…  For more, click on the text above.

Target to Give Workers Pay Raises, Bonuses, and Paid Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic

Target will give its employees wage increases, bonuses, and paid leave to help them through the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, the company said Friday. “We continue to experience incredible demand across our business, and Target’s ability to help our guests in this unprecedented time would not be possible without the strength of our team,” Target CEO Brian Cornell stated. The press release continued: ” In recognition of the significant contributions its frontline team members are playing during an incredible time of need, Target (NYSE: TGT) today announced it is raising its industry-leading pay by $2 an hour until at least May 2. In addition, effective immediately, Target is offering a new option for all team members who are 65 or older, pregnant or those with underlying medical conditions to access paid leave. Target’s latest investments include bonuses it is paying out to frontline team members, including, for the first time, bonuses for 20,000 hourly store team leads who manage individual departments in its stores across the country.” In addition, the company will also donate $1 million to the Target Team Member Giving Fund whose purpose is to help employees affected by unforeseen difficulties. “Established in 2018, the fund has supported hundreds of team members year-round through times of hardship, and Target will match up to an additional $1 million in contributions from fellow team members who seek to assist their colleagues in need,” the release continued. Tuesday, the company announced it would reduce store hours and close by 9 p.m. every day to give employees more time to stock shelves and deep clean facilities. “We’ll also reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns,” the article read. The Chinese coronavirus pandemic has caused claims for state unemployment benefits to jump from 70,000 to 281,000, the highest number since September 2017, according to the Department of Labor. However, Target’s goal is to protect its employees’ livelihoods by implementing the pay increases and bonuses for the time being. “Increasing their compensation for a job incredibly well done and ensuring continued compensation for those who need to care for themselves and their families is a reflection of our company’s values and simply the right thing to do,” Cornell said.

Target is really stepping up and going above and beyond for its employees.  Great job Target!!    🙂

Target reducing store hours, reserving Wednesday mornings for vulnerable customers to shop

Target has revealed new store policies as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Target will start reducing store hours beginning Wednesday, with all stores closing by 9 p.m. daily. The major retail chain said this will allow employees to replenish items and deeply clean the facilities. In addition to closing the store earlier, Target will reserve the first hour of Wednesday mornings for vulnerable guests – including elderly customers and those with underlying health concerns – a letter from CEO Brian Cornell shared. The letter shared Target would be “fast-tracking the flow” of high-demand products and begin product limits for highest demand merchandise, and “respectfully ask[ing] all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly.” Earlier, the chain announced it would be adding more staffing for services that support social distancing, like drive-up and pickup orders, which are still being offered. Target’s move comes a day after Costco adopted a similar policy in response to the growing outbreak. Costco announced Tuesday that it would begin limiting the number of customers allowed in the store at one time, as well as limiting the amount of in-demand items one person could purchase.

Great job Target!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Apple Closes All Retail Stores – Except in China

Tech giant Apple has reportedly closed all of its stores outside of China just days after announcing the reopening of its Chinese retail stores. In a post to the Apple Newsroom tech giant Apple announced that it would be closing all stores outside of China shortly after reopening all of its stores in the country. In a post to the Newsroom, Apple stated: ” First, I want to recognize Apple’s family in Greater China. Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt. I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit. As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened. I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain. What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response. One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers. We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers. Our online stores are open at www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App Store. For service and support, customers can visit support.apple.com. I want to thank our extraordinary Retail teams for their dedication to enriching our customers’ lives. We are all so grateful to you.” Some have criticized the move by Apple such as Hayman Chief Investment Officers Kyle Bass who stated that Apple CEO Tim Cook has “sold his soul to the evil of the Chinese communist party.” On Friday, Breitbart News reported that Apple had reopened its stores in China after shutting them down last month following the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus. The company has since been gradually reopening them and the final stores resumed normal business on Friday. The closure of the stores factored into Apple’s announcement last month that the coronavirus would have an impact on its quarterly revenue. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated at the time that he was confident that China was getting the outbreak under control. A number of tech firms are being affected, Breitbart News recently reported that e-commerce platform Shopify recently instructed its 5,000 employees across 11 different countries to work from home, following in the footsteps of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and multiple other tech firms that have sent employees home as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads. A source familiar with Shopify told Business Insider that the firm is providing employees with a stipend to pay for any office equipment they may need to work remotely.

Retailers Make Historic $34.4 Billion During Super Saturday Sales

Shoppers gave retailers a massive boost Saturday by making it the biggest sales day in U.S. retail history. Super Saturday sales reached $34.4 billion thanks to a booming economy and more jobs, according to retail research firm Customer Growth Partners. “Paced by the ‘Big Four’ mega-retailers — Walmart, Amazon, Costco and Target — Super Saturday was boosted by the best traffic our team has seen in years,” said the firm’s president, Craig Johnson. Johnson noted that stronger household finances have “put consumers in a buying mood this season,” adding that more of them are shopping online, which has accounted for a 58 percent sales growth compared to last year. The weekend record beat out Black Friday’s $31.2 billion and Cyber Monday’s $19.1 billion, a Fox Business report said. In November, incomes rose by half a percentage point, which caused consumer spending to rise at a 0.4 percent annual rate, according to Breitbart News’s John Carney.

More great news in this Trump economy!  For more, click on the text above.       🙂