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JCPenney to Bring Back Sales, Is Sorry Everyone Hated Everyday Low Prices

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By , dealnews contributor

Last year, JCPenney made the quizzical decision to nix sales in favor of "everyday low prices," leaving many shoppers (and some analysts) scratching their heads as to the logic behind the change. As it turns out, it's a strategy that may go down in history as the retail equivalent of New Coke.

The struggling retailer announced Tuesday that it would put an end to the policy and begin rolling out conventional sales once again, reportedly starting in a few days with discounts on fine jewelry through Valentine's Day. While consumers may be getting their credit cards revved up for deals, the move made shoppers of another sort very happy, too. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, investors rewarded JCPenney after the announcement by sending its stock up 8.3% as of Tuesday afternoon.

Yet, even if JCPenney wins back customers who were irked by last year's marketing decision, CEO Ron Johnson will have some explaining to do, lest he brace himself for some serious shopping of his own (in the job market, to be precise). Coming over from Apple, where he ran the iPhone retail operation, Johnson instituted the no-sales policy because he wanted to wean shoppers off discounts that had hurt profits.

But shoppers balked. JCPenney, after all, isn't Apple, which can count on a fanatical following that will pay anything for its products, even at retail prices. After JCPenney instituted the "everyday low prices" model, sales fell nearly 30% — probably not the kind of discount Johnson had in mind. Moreover, the Wall Street Journal reports that JCPenney sales fell $2.7 billion over the first nine months of the year. That said, it hasn't been all bad news for JCPenney or its shoppers under Johnson's leadership. Analysts have hailed Johnson's other moves, such as revamping stores, including better brands in its lineup, and placing stores within stores.

Despite its unpopularity, everyday low pricing isn't going away entirely, according to JCPenney representatives. However, it still remains to be seen whether the first batch of new sales will mean a return to old form, or a begrudging move that's more about PR spin than shopper satisfaction.

Beyond the issue of sales, JCPenney's woes are far from over. Investor Place reports that the retailer is also facing a lawsuit from rival Macy’s over its licensing deal with Martha Stewart Omnimedia. JCPenney was hoping that the domestic diva’s brand would bring customers back to stores, but has instead restrained its presence as the lawsuit goes to court next month.

Speaking of court, now the ball's in yours, dealnews readers. What do you think about this return to sales? Were you irked when JCPenney eliminated them a year ago? If so, are you willing to give Penney a second chance? Weigh in and tell us what you think — or if you prefer, a Penney for your thoughts.



Lou Carlozo is a dealnews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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4 comments
melissarip
I think the advertising as a whole is more unappealing!!
jmackinac
For how nice it is to hear from an actual Associate on the inner workings of JCP, I don't agree with this at all.

"They now carry much nicer 100% cotton Stafford Dress Shirts"

100% cotton = wrinkled.

I have Stafford poly / cotton blend shirts that I have worn once every week or two, launder them, dry them and throw them on a hangar ready to go for the next wearing...no dry cleaning and no ironing. They lost a customer if they did away with the poly/cottong blend.
2pointeight
Working there before and after the changes, People say the quality has gone down in some products. However I didn't see the case in most items. i.e. When we had the change from St johns bay (SJB) to JCP and we still had both in store, and the material felt exactly the same with the difference of a 3rd button on the polo. They now carry much nicer 100% cotton Stafford Dress Shirts now (in my store at least) Basic JCP v-neck shirts seem to be previously Article365 shirts (an old in-house brand as well)
However, the Arizona solid crew/v-neck shirts do seem to be much thinner than the past shirts I have bought in the past.
This is all based on personal opinion. but take it how you will. And simple pricing is much better, I shop H&M and Target, and as they have sales occasionally in men's clothing their prices and quality is comparable to JCP imo
abbazaba
Its a real shame that people cant see a good deal unless its spelled out with a % off sign. Now the $17 shirts Ive been buying will be priced $30 and I'll have to wait for them to be put "on sale" back to $17
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