Monthly Archives: March 2012

Goodbye, JC Penney

Recently, I wrote of my prescription for turning around Sears. My phone has since been ringing off the hook, retail consultants offering to pay me millions for more advice. (What? You don’t believe me? Why, just look at the photo of me in the new gem-encrusted tiara I was able to buy with my riches.)

So, now I’m back, offering advice to JC Penney. Here it is:

Stop, before it’s too late!

Penney has adopted a new strategy. They have moved away from continual sales with coupon enticements and have gone to continual deep discounts with what they seem to think is hipper marketing.

That means no more almost-daily mailings from JCP filled with coupons for this special deal or that special item. Good for them. Those coupons were a bear to keep track of, and I know more than one Penney shopper who always ended up in the store trying to use the wrong one for the wrong item on the wrong day (yes, that was me holding up the line in home goods with my outdated coupon for a turkey roaster). The coupons had enough fine print on them to put scores of optometrists’ children through college.

That’s the good news about this strategy: no more annoying coupons.

Here’s the bad news: the stuff shoppers loved about Penney is now…lost in the mist of mercantile marketing miasma. The confusing sales might be gone, but so are the “shopper cues,” the signs pointing you to the “two for the price of one” T-shirt displays, the “marked down” racks of jeans and khakis, the enticing shelves filled with gewgaws that you might not buy but put you in a buying mood.

On a recent trip to Penney’s for what should have been an easy purchase (a denim skirt), nothing pulled me into a display at all. Not even the jewelry or the casual clothes for women of a certain age. Those beckoned to me in the past.

To go along with this less-is-less marketing strategy, Penney now sends out expensive little booklets promoting each month’s special deals. The first one was reasonably, if not spectacularly, done. This past month’s was filled with…jewelry. As if Penney had decided to hop, skip and jump over their latest marketing efforts and become a standalone shop for the Gollum crowd.

But worst of all in this pantheon of pathetic promo ideas is their television campaign. The only thing I ever remember about their TV ads is a rather unattractive mouth on a less-than-appealing auctioneer. Don’t take my word for it. Watch for yourself.


JC Penney used to be my “go to” store, my first stop at the mall, the one I parked in front of. I knew I could always find comfy casual slacks there, curtains, sheets, towels, the occasional small appliance (ah, that turkey roaster), good costume jewelry and an upscale outfit for that once-a-year formal event. I loved Penney’s.  Now, sadly, not so much. They’re losing me, and I was a loyal shopper.

Way to go, corporate!


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