J.C. Penney logo

Courtesy: jcpenney

When was the last time you visited the J.C. Penney Company? I couldn’t even remember the last time until I stumbled in recently for my own research purposes. The department store has topped the headlines recently for its changes and lackluster performance.  If you’re like me and thought the store didn’t sell clothing you’d like, I encourage you to think again. I was shocked at the money-saving offers inside.

The news hasn’t been good for the struggling retailer for quite some time. The company’s adjusted net loss for the fourth quarter was $427 million or $1.95 per share. Those are far better numbers than the dismal year end statistics. For the year, jcpenney reported an adjusted net loss of $766 million or $3.49 per share.

Ron Johnson, chief executive officer of jcpenney said, “Sales and customer traffic were below our expectations in 2012, but as we execute our ambitious transformation plan, we are pleased with the great strides we made to improve jcpenney’s cost structure, technology platforms and the overall customer experience.”

He went on to talk about the changes for 2013.

“Combining a new marketing campaign focused on style and value, incredible new brands and updated merchandise, with continued enhancements to the customer experience both in our stores and on jcp.com, we are working towards reconnecting with our core customer while attracting new customers to jcpenney.”

Joe Fresh

Courtesy: jcpenney

The company’s marquee fashion line this spring includes Joe Fresh. The store touts it as “highly anticipated.”

Whether you know the Canadian apparel brand or not, you should give the store a fresh look. I was shocked by the low prices on a recent visit. I wasn’t there to browse the racks for clothing for myself, but I couldn’t help but take a second look because of the low prices. I bought a long sleeve workout shirt for less than $10. These shirts typically retail for $20-30. Even at Marshalls or T.J.Maxx you’ll pay $20.

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The store has a unique approach to checking out with centralized registers in a kiosk in the middle of several sections and near the doors. It’s easy to find, and not hidden in a department like many department stores. The cashiers scan your item and payment method on a mobile device.

More changes are expected throughout this year, with The Associated Press reporting changes to some home departments as early as this Friday. The article said half the stores will have several boutiques within the home department that will feature an array of products. This will create a store within a store shopping experience.

The last straw for some shoppers was the flip flopping on sales and coupons. While all the changes have turned many customers away including loyal shoppers, it may be worth giving the store a second chance. Ok, maybe it’s a third and a fourth chance when you consider all the changes.

No doubt consistency is important to shoppers. People want to know what to expect every time they walk into a store. I don’t like surprises in store policy or procedure. Consistency keeps me coming back. I think it will take a long time for jcpenney to regain customer trust and confidence due to all the changes, and it may never happen.

While it may take some time before the store is back on solid ground,  I suggest you give the store another chance if your bottom line is important to you. Go in knowing your prices so you’re not caught up in the ever-changing pricing and sale structure. Just browse around. You may be surprised at the low prices you find especially at this time of year when the clearance racks are full.

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Until a few weeks ago, the store wasn’t even on my radar. It hadn’t been in at least a decade. I always drove past it at the mall. I never thought about it. I don’t think I’ll shop there for all my clothing, but I might just add it to my list of places to check for cheap workout clothes especially if I’m in a bargain hunting kind of mood. You might want to act fast, because it’s unclear if the store and these bargains will survive. To do that, many opinions needs to change.