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JC Penney sees improving sales

Penney said online sales rose 25.3 percent last month, compared with a year earlier.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File

Penney said online sales rose 25.3 percent last month, compared with a year earlier.

NEW YORK — Shares of J.C. Penney Co. got a boost Tuesday after the struggling department store chain said that a key sales barometer improved in September from August and it expects that it will have ample liquidity at year’s end.

Penney, based in Plano, Texas, said that revenue at stores open at least a year fell 4 percent in September from a year earlier, but that was a 5.8 percentage point improvement from August.

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The retailer also said that its online sales continue to strengthen. Online sales rose 25.3 percent last month, compared with a year before. That followed a 10.8 percent gain in August. For the third quarter-to-date, online sales are up 18.6 percent.

Penney said that it expects to see improving sales trends for the remainder of the year. Revenue at stores open at least a year is a key gauge of a retailer’s health because it excludes the potentially distorting effect of results from stores recently opened or closed.

The shares rose more than 5 percent in morning trading before closing at $7.77, up 6 cents, just under 1 percent.

The retailer is trying to recover from a failed turnaround attempt spearheaded by former CEO Ron Johnson.

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