J.C. Penney to Open on Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) -

J.C. Penney is opening its doors on Thanksgiving evening to kick off the end-of-year shopping season, as the beleaguered retailer hopes to get back in the game for the crucial selling period.

The Plano, Texas-based chain will open most of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the same as rival Macy’s, and will be open 25 hours straight, closing at 9 p.m. the following day.

The Thanksgiving evening opening is much earlier than last year, when Penney didn’t open until 6 a.m. Friday. That made the retailer one of the laggards for the unofficial kickoff to the season.

“Obviously, we were one of the last to open (last year),” said Tony Bartlett, Penney’s executive vice president of stores. But this year, “We’re all in.”

He promised that Penney’s deals will be at least as good as two years ago and much better than last year, when Penney gave away buttons tied to a prize giveaway.

Penney is also hiring at least 35,000 seasonal workers for these major shopping days, nearly 50 percent more than a year ago.

The plan is yet another example of how Penney is unraveling the strategies of its former CEO Ron Johnson, who was ousted in April after 17 months on the job amid a botched-up plan to reinvent the retailer. Johnson was fired two months after the company announced horrific fourth-quarter results that covered the year-end shopping season. That ended a fiscal year, which finished Feb. 2, in which Penney amassed almost a billion dollars in losses and a 25 percent drop in sales.

Penney brought back Johnson’s predecessor, Mike Ullman, as CEO. He is restoring frequent sales and basic merchandise that were eliminated by Johnson, who was aiming to attract a more affluent, younger shopper.

Shares of J.C. Penney were down nearly 3 percent, or 21 cents, to $7.14 Friday. They have lost 83 percent of their value since early February 2012.