Although most industry analysts are relatively positive regarding the ongoing turnaround of retail icon J C Penney, Walter Loeb of Forbes penned a piece published on Thursday that opined J C Penney still had a long row to hoe to catch up to its competitors.
J C Penney store in Willow Grove Mall in Pennsylvania was “not in the same league” as competitors
In his article, Loeb highlights recent comments from Jeremy Rosenau, professor emeritus and program director of Fashion Apparel Studies at Philadelphia University, stopped by the J C Penney outlet in the Willow Grove Mall at Willow Grove, PA. Rosenau said he saw numerous display tables with unfolded merchandise, and saw just one associate trying to put merchandise back into stock from rolling carts filled with a variety of garments. Merchandise that had fallen on the floor was not picked up.
Rosenau also noted there was a great deal of space between tables, suggesting a low level of inventory. There were some customers shopping in the store; but not many were holding JCP shopping bags indicating purchases.
H&M.was located next to the JCP in the Willow Grove Mall, and this store was quite busy. Rosenau noted H&M was displaying lots of merchandise and everything looked great. Forever 21 was across from the J C Penney store, and also had more inventory and more traffic. His final conclusion was that J C Penney has two successful neighbors in that center, but that the store was not in the same league as its competitors.
Successful roll out of new strategies
On the plus side, Loeb points out that J C Penney has embraced the omnichannel merchandising philosophy in an effort to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience in stores and online. He believes this approach will increase the frequency of customer visits and have a positive impact on the bottom line.
The firm has also revamped its accessory, handbags, intimate apparel and shoe departments, all of which are core categories that drive consumer traffic. Sephora is also an important asset that drives traffic. Fine jewelry in general, a long standing business for the firm, is another plus as it offers outstanding values that consumers appreciate.
Penney’s home segment remains strong
Loeb also notes that sales have rebounded in the home segment, which had represented a quarter of total sales a few years ago, and dropped to about 8% during the year and half that Ron Johnson was CEO. He estimates that Home Store sales are probably up in the mid-teen range. Putting out a Home Collection catalog last month 2015 also gave things a boost.