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The parking lot in front of a JCPenney store at The Shops at Tanforan Mall on May 15, in San Bruno, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

JCPenney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, following prolonged store closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: This is the third major brick-and-mortar retail bankruptcy of the month, after J.Crew and Neiman Marcus, but by far the largest. The 118-year-old department store has 846 locations that employed around 90,000 people.

What they're saying:

“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our families, our loved ones, our communities, and our country. As a result, the American retail industry has experienced a profoundly different new reality, requiring JCPenney to make difficult decisions in running our business to protect the safety of our associates and customers and the future of our company."
— CEO Jill Soltau in a statement

Go deeper

Updated Aug 12, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Industry's digital update

On Wednesday August 12, @Work author Erica Pandey hosted a conversation on how the coronavirus has accelerated a nationwide shift to e-commerce, featuring Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen.

Rodney McMullen discussed how grocery stores have adjusted to changing times and leaned more on contactless options — like online ordering with curbside delivery — to meet customers' needs.

  • On a hybrid shopping experience for customers: "One of the things that we've found is customers that use us online also like to come into our stores. That's one of the reasons why it's important to have a totally seamless experience where customers can do whatever's easiest for them at that particular point in time. From our view, part of this [shift to online shopping] will be permanent.
  • How coronavirus has changed trends in grocery shopping: "When people shop, the basket sizes are significantly bigger when you look at today versus before the pandemic. The other thing that's causing some of [the larger basket sizes] is families have moved back in together. I know a lot of kids have moved back with their parents."

Sallie Krawcheck discussed the financial industry, focusing on how women are being impacted by COVID-19 in their places of work and in their approach to finances.

  • How gender inequities can be amplified by remote work: "Women are a greater share of essential workers and are losing their jobs at a greater rate. And it's a problem at the most subtle level — women are finding all of the micro-inequities of the workplace. It's hard to get a word in edgewise in a meeting. Questions like 'how do I get my point of view heard?' are being really amplified in a Zoom era."
  • On the future role of in-person financial advising and transactions: "[Finance] is going digital first...The argument that you're not going to have the same relationship [with your financial advisor] if you don't meet in person isn't right."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with
Okta CEO Todd McKinnon who discussed how brick-and-mortar businesses have shifted to e-commerce as a result of the pandemic.

  • "Companies [are] realizing that we're in this pandemic world for a long time. So they really have to have their digital strategies put together...When you can't go to the hardware store, the hardware store has to get online. And that's happening now."

Thank you Okta for sponsoring this event.

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.