J.C. Penney said Thursday it is delaying plans to shutter 138 stores amid a surge in shoppers making final visits.
"Since announcing store closures, affected locations have seen better than expected sales and traffic," J.C. Penney spokesman Joey Thomas told USA TODAY in an email statement. As a result, it's "advantageous for the company to continue selling through spring and summer merchandise at current promotional levels by pushing liquidation back another month," Thomas said.
The influx of last-minute shoppers prompted the chain to postpone liquidation sales until May 22, instead of April 17, as originally planned. Store closures have been pushed back six weeks, to July 31, Thomas said.
CNBC was the first to report on J.C. Penney's change in plans on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Penney announced plans to close 138 stores and focus on more profitable locations to save about $200 million a year. The company is drowning in $4.3 billion in long-term debt.
J.C. Penney, Sears and Macy's are among the traditional department-store chains that are struggling to competing with Amazon and other online retail operations. All are being forced to close stores, revamp operations and look for new ways to survive as the retail industry transforms.