J.C. Penney is delaying store closings

Credit: Mark Lennihan

Credit: Mark Lennihan

J.C. Penney stores have seen "better than expected sales and traffic" in the weeks since the company announced it would close 138 stores, so plans have changed.

At least for a while.

A surge of customers looking for bargains as stores close has pushed back liquidation sales until May 22 and store closings to July 31, Joey Thomas, a spokesman for the company, told USA Today in an interview Thursday.

"Since announcing store closures, affected locations have seen better than expected sales and traffic," J.C. Penney spokesman Thomas told USA TODAY. Because of the increase in sales, 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.

J.C. Penney said it expected annual savings of about $200 million from the cost-cutting measures when the company announced the closings.