Chesapeake J.C. Penney will stay open

Published 9:45 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

One of Chesapeake Square Mall’s biggest retailers will remain in business, according to a press release this week.

J.C. Penney released a list of 138 store closings nationwide on Friday. The Chesapeake Square Mall location was not on the list and will remain open.

Closing stores will begin liquidation sales on April 17 and close in June while nearly 900 locations will remain in operation.

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The national retailer announced its plans to close 130 to 140 stores and two distribution centers in a Feb. 24 press release. The decision was made to “optimize its national retail operations” as online shopping becomes a bigger threat to in-store sales.

“We believe closing stores will also allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers,” the press release stated.

Chesapeake Square Mall general manager Ed Zivic said most store closings are generally due to market changes and declined to comment on the mall’s ongoing partnership with J.C. Penney.

“Generally when a retailer makes the decision to close, it is due to a shift in business strategy, location strategy or local consumer demand for their offerings,” Zivic said.

Several retailers have closed their Chesapeake Square locations in recent years. The Chesapeake Square Family Christian Store will close soon, along with the rest of the chain.

Macy’s closed its Chesapeake Square location in 2016, as did Sears in 2015. The mall was headed into foreclosure in April 2016 with an outstanding loan of $61.7 million, according to real estate analytics firm Trepp LLC.

Shoppers have made their concerns known on Facebook.

“I moved here before there was a mall,” Facebook user Kitty Katz said in a response to a Suffolk News-Herald reporter’s question on the Western Branch Coming Together Facebook page. “I remember the excitement to have a shopping place close and see it thrive. So sad to watch the deterioration.”

Others see the mall’s struggles as part of a trend.

“The standard shopping mall model is losing popularity and business viability, and Chesapeake Square is seeing that first-hand,” Facebook user David Schleeper wrote.

Zivic said in an official statement that management continues to be optimistic.

“As is the case with most retail properties, there is periodic turnover,” he said. “We view this as an opportunity to enhance our retail offerings.”