J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) and competitor Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE:KSS) both saw impressive foot traffic over Black Friday weekend, according to Sterne Agee analysts. They report that this is the first time in at least four or five years that they have been impressed with the amount of reported foot traffic over the hectic shopping weekend.

J C Penney benefits from improved shopping trends

In a report dated Nov. 30, 2014, analysts Charles Grom, Renato Basanta and John Parke said plummeting gas prices and increases in the equity markets are likely improving consumer sentiment. As a result, retailers could do very well in this year’s holiday shopping season.

J C Penney Company Inc Gets An 'A' On Black Friday

The analysts said they were “encouraged” by foot traffic in “the tri-state area” throughout Black Friday weekend. They say even though stores opened earlier than previously on Thanksgiving, there were still large crowds taking advantage of door buster deals. J C Penney opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Foot traffic feedback good from J C Penney

The Sterne Agee team said there appeared to be a “nice” year over year improvement in traffic levels at J C Penney this year. They report that their surveys indicate that there was a lull in foot traffic during the early shopping hours on Friday. However, anecdotal reports suggest that the evening lull wasn’t as bad as it was last year.

Additionally, they said by 7 a.m., malls were “packed” with Millennials and also more male shoppers than they had seen in past years. They add that the only retailer in their coverage universe that appeared to have healthier foot traffic than J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) was Kohl’s.

J C Penney gets an “A”

Data from IBM Analytics indicates that J C Penney had the biggest year over year increase in sales in the Northeast and the Midwest. In addition, the Sterne Agee team said in the stores they visited, the checkout lines were “noticeably longer,” and J C Penney sold out of its traditional snow globe giveaway on Thanksgiving evening. Last year, there were “plenty” of them in stock as of Friday morning.

The analysts were also “impressed” with the depth of gift items that were part of the department store chain’s door buster offers. Last year, most of them were cookware, but this year, the retailer offered items like iHome radios, headphones, flashlights and other items. They noted a higher concentration of shoppers in J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP)’s apparel, women’s footware, home and Sephora departments.

Based on their checks they gave J C Penney an “A” for Black Friday shopping compared to last year.