Stores, sports and sales during COVID-19 fluctuate

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/22/20

I’m back — in this form at least. I’ve been writing about business in Chatham County for the last couple of months related to COVID-19, but always in story form. The Corner Store has taken a …

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Stores, sports and sales during COVID-19 fluctuate

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I’m back — in this form at least. I’ve been writing about business in Chatham County for the last couple of months related to COVID-19, but always in story form. The Corner Store has taken a bit of a break. But it’s back this week...

JCPenney files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The JCPenney store in my hometown of Sanford sits still and empty right now. Last I checked, the sign might even be gone. The rest of the chain’s stores may soon follow suit.

The company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has pledged to implement a financial restructuring plan to help pay off debt. In a press release, JCPenney CEO Jill Soltau said the company had “made significant progress rebuilding,” but stores closing due to the COVID-19 outbreak “necessitated a more fulsome review to include the elimination of outstanding debt.”

Along with using the word “fulsome” — which means “of large size or quality; generous or abundant” — JCPenney is still functioning, but will “reduce its store footprint to better align its business with the current operating environment.”

The closest JCPenney to Chatham County is the location at the Streets of Southpoint mall in Durham.

Live sports are back in Germany

While live sports aside from the WWE are on hiatus in America, Germany’s Bundesliga, the top professional soccer league in the country, restarted play last Saturday. The games, held behind closed doors, had record viewership in Germany. Broadcaster Sky Germany had more than six million viewers, according to a report by Agence-France Presse.

The move comes as soccer leagues across the world are taking different approaches. The French and Scottish top divisions both canceled the rest of their seasons. The English Premier League will return to small group training soon after a league vote on Monday.

What American sports leagues — which are very big businesses themselves and produce lots of money in lots of different sectors ranging from groceries to televisions — do is still up in the air. NASCAR had its first race, also without fans, on Sunday, but leagues like the MLB and NHL are still working out their plans.

At least in Germany, things are back under way.

COVID-19 and business by the numbers

A quick rundown, for the final item in this column, of some of the business-related numbers from COVID-19:

• Retail sales in the U.S. dropped by 16.4 percent from March to April, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Online sales went up by 8.4 percent over that time, and have increased by 21.6 percent from the same time last year. But industries like auto dealers (13 percent), electronics and appliance stores (more than 60 percent) and clothing stores (79 percent) all saw high decreases.

• Production from industry also saw record declines. Manufacturing output dropped by 13.7 percent, as car, trucks and auto parts declined by more than 70 percent and other transportation materials, metals and furniture dropped by around 20 percent, according to a report from the Associated Press.

• British insurance market Lloyd’s of London said underwriting losses for the insurance industry could reach $107 billion due to COVID-19, with investment portfolios dropping by around $96 billion.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.


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