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Sales at J.C. Penney (JCP) slumped more than 30% during the holiday selling season compared to a...

Sales at J.C. Penney (JCP) slumped more than 30% during the holiday selling season compared to a year ago, according to sources. If the leaked numbers are accurate, it shows the alarming bleeding of customers at the retailer is still running full force. JCP -2.1% premarket.
Comments (12)
  • Brandond
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    I went to the local mall this weekend to go to Timberland and found it easiest to park in front of JCP and walk through the store to access the Timberland store. I have never see a store that empty; almost all other stores seemed to be buzzing but JCP was like a ghost town; guess this was a pre-cursor to today's news.
    14 Jan 2013, 07:46 AM Reply Like
  • GeorgeMason
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    It's been like that all year. Looks like their 'button' campaign over the holidays didn't work. Shoppers do not like the changes.
    14 Jan 2013, 03:15 PM Reply Like
  • bsharks26
    , contributor
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    Leave it to Oppenheimer to toss out an article just to send the stock higher even with a 30% decrease in YOY comps.
    14 Jan 2013, 05:23 PM Reply Like
  • retailgirl
    , contributor
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    We employees KNEW the button program would be more arguing with customers than it was worth....and it was. "A Fight a Day Program", we called it. They wanted handfuls of buttons, not one or two...they are Americans you know.....AND they wanted to "stack" coupons, some had 17-20 coupons and wanted to stack them to buy expensive single cup coffee brewing machines.

     

    Fire the person who did not think this program through.
    15 Jan 2013, 10:07 AM Reply Like
  • GeorgeMason
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    Those are the type of customers JCPenney seems to attract, it is not a high end store and I seriously doubt it can ever become one.
    15 Jan 2013, 07:39 PM Reply Like
  • gmom3
    , contributor
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    retailgirl: I think the company's biggest mistake with the buttons was not programming the registers to NOT take more then one certificate per transaction. It said so on the certificates (one per transaction), but because so many employees either ignored that or were not made aware of it, they did more then one. Then customers complained that someone had done multiples and argued about that. They would go to different registers or stores trying to find that "other" ignorant employee to run them through. Overall, I think the buttons promoted more positive feelings with customers then the opposite. We didn't have the handful folks (just the one reaching behind the counter and running out of the store with the entire box like your handbag lady. lol) but there were the ones who went and asked from counter to counter. I didn't even realize people were collecting all 50 of them for decorations or for fun until really far into the promotion. The fact that some stores had employees being rude with customers who asked or even requiring customers to buy something to get a button showed that the company didn't prepare their employees enough to be able to handle the ugliness that did appear. I actually enjoyed giving out the buttons and had some fun conversations with customers during the interactions.

     

    I can only imagine what your home store must look like now. Our home area is part of the regular store and at a main entrance to the mall and it looks vacant with low inventory and the remaining clearance. I can't help but think how yours looks like with the entire building being reset without the rest of a regular store to offset that area until done. I asked the team members last night what their thoughts were about the reset and they seemed clueless. They just said they were told their hours would be cut during the remodel. that makes sense because there won't be much to sell as that is a very large area of our store. The three new areas we are getting reset in our neighborhood this early part of the year only means new fixtures, lighting and visual presentation. It will look great compared to the weird mix we have now due to not having places to put the new merchandise. We won't have to put up with all the remodelling mess like they did in Levi, Izod, jcp, and Mango (that one was the worst one I have gone through)
    15 Jan 2013, 12:06 PM Reply Like
  • bsharks26
    , contributor
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    Please explain to me what the point is of laying jeans flat on a table and putting stools there. I've never seen a worker in the KoP JCP store servicing the Levi's area.
    16 Jan 2013, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • gmom3
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    bsharks: I am not sure of what the point is. I have not been trained to be an expert in Levi's so I am not sure what the official reasoning behind that is. I am in that area quite often however, and what I observe is that it is the customers who are picking up the jeans and looking at them. A lot of those guys seem to know what they want in a jean and are looking to see what "number" it is that matches what they want. The jeans are all stacked on shelves near the tables so if the customer can check out the style first, it cuts down a lot on the pulling out of piles various styles of jeans to figure out which type he wants. Two of the stools are where the IPads are for looking at the various styles on models from different perspectives. It is rare that a guy comes in by himself to look at jeans. So it is nice for his wife or friends to sit while he tries on the different sizes to get the ones he wants.

     

    As for a team member there to service the area. I know our store schedules someone there almost every day and evening, with extra staffing at the perceived busier times. Also, team members from other areas can assist from the Dockers, Big and Tall, Men's suits areas. I have done that several times since I used to work in men's jeans in the past and am familiar with stock, sizing, etc. The team members there seem to spend a large part of their time organizing the sizes and styles and straightening the area so when customers come in they can actually find what they are looking for rather easily. The ones at our store "look" like customers with their unique style of dress. I can't fake that look so it is easy for customers to find me as I often get mistaken for being a manager (which I am not but age does have its pluses!)

     

    So, the stools are for comfort and to reflect the relaxed feel of the area and the jeans layed out is for easier perusal of customers without having to search the many different styles, colors, numbers all stacked on the shelves.

     

    A lot of jeans customers do NOT like to be helped and prefer to help themselves. Those guys often know their likes and dislikes and they want what they want. The ones who need assistance are either approached by the team member, or ask for help when needed. The "organizing" team member knows that the customer comes first over sizing jeans and would make him or herself available to the customer. The stores have to have someone there for many obvious reasons, but the jean area is a high theft area and good customer service is the best way to deter theft in a store.
    16 Jan 2013, 12:47 PM Reply Like
  • GeorgeMason
    , contributor
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    Supposedly shoppers are in a hurry nowadays and want the convenience of checkout by ipod as opposed to standing online at a cash wrap station, so why on earth would they want to sit and relax on a stool to shop for levis? Or sit on a couch and drink a latte?
    There may have been an increase in revenue at these shops but they are nothing new to retail. When the 'newness' of the shops in Jcp and the lack of services, sizing and available stock wears off we shall see. I believe many people are looking through rose colored glasses.
    16 Jan 2013, 03:01 PM Reply Like
  • gmom3
    , contributor
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    George: Not all shoppers are in a hurry nowadays or in the past either. Using an iPod isn't speeding up the process. It is just a smaller size cash register, without the ability to process cash payments.. Even the elderly have been open to signing the Ipods for their credit or debit purchases, so it's not too fangdangled for those not into the techno world. We have a lot more customers who use cards, debit or credit, then we do who use cash and checks are about as rare as can be.

     

    There are a lot of customers who "shop" for entertainment, especially the age group that seems to be targeted for the clothing area. They are not in a hurry as you are convinced and the ages of who sit on those stools are as varied as there are customers. The inventory in the shops is quite a bit better in the shops then in the "old" sections of the store. The sizes available in Arizona and Levi jeans are excellent and in stock in the store. That is not the case in the "non shop" areas of the store. I don't see Levi or Arizona being new but having a lot more options and sizes then we ever had before and much more customer friendly in finding the sizes and colors they want. That is not a novelty that would wear off.

     

    There are some comfy chairs in the Liz Clairborne area and those are rarely empty. I think you are off base on thinking no one is going to sit on a stool or chair. And what if no one isn't at the time you are there? It isn't affecting the bottom line at that particular moment. I actually thought little kids would be playing on the Ipads in Levi's, e but that hasn't been the case most of the times I have been there.
    16 Jan 2013, 04:23 PM Reply Like
  • GeorgeMason
    , contributor
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    Things seem to be so much different at your store gmom3. I don't see any of what you say happens in your store in any of the JCPenney stores locally (2) or where I visit family twice monthly (3).
    17 Jan 2013, 01:01 PM Reply Like
  • gmom3
    , contributor
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    George: I agree about stores in different locations being unlike each other. There are many variables - customer base, competition, location, employee pool, leadership - any number of things. There are no other jcp stores within an hour's drive from here and it is located in a mall that is the only one available in town. The area is surrounded by farm land and many, many little towns. The saving grace for us is that we have a very large university in our town that brings in a lot of people from various backgrounds and countries. There are a lot of international families who shop while here. Then add the business people who come or work here, we have a pretty good customer base. We have a Kohl's, Macy's, H & M, Target, about three WalMarts, KMart and a lot of regional companies to compete with. Plus we have a Rural King for those who want and need those denims for rough outdoor work. There is no Big and tall store in the area, so jcp is about it for those guys. Jcp previously has seemed to have had the reputation of having something for everyone, but that just is not realistic anymore. Not every man over 60 needs Towncraft pants with the elastic waistbands that they replace every 10 years or so. Plus if the employees are knowledgeable about their merchandise and are keen customer service reps, they can find other options for those folks who bemoan the favorite brand of the past is no longer available. The stores that "get that' about customer service are the ones who are not sitting idle without customers.

     

    I have an adult child who lives in a European fashion capital city and she used to work at our local store when she was a teenager. When I first started telling her about the changes the company had planned, she got really excited. She said that sounds very much like what she is used to in her city when it comes to shopping. She thought it was amazing that jcp was moving towards being a specialty store instead of the old department model. She said that jcp was on the cutting edge in retail. In her city, it is very common for the large retail stores to be like what jcp is moving towards. I have heard that from international customers who travel often. They also like the look and feel of the remodelled areas.

     

    Living in this area, being "hip" has never been close to anything one would find in our area. However, it seems to be bringing in those customers who love to shop for entertainment. I don't remember seeing those kinds of customers before in all the years I have worked there. We also still see many of the regulars who have been coming in for years and I still see them at least once or twice a week.

     

    The times are a changing and obviously more noticeable in some locations more then others.
    18 Jan 2013, 10:13 AM Reply Like
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