Are you shopping at J.C. Penney?

I have been reading stories about J.C. Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson’s strategy for the company and why he was fired this week.  The article said he cut coupons and deals and instead offered everyday low prices. It said he introduced little “boutique” areas into the big store and developed relationships with new brands, such as Sephora.

From USA Today:

“(Ron) Johnson turned off long-time customers who were used to seeing markdowns to know they were getting a good deal. Now, interim CEO Mike Ullman — who headed Penney from 2004 to 2011 — is faced with the task of getting them back. “

“Driving traffic should be the company’s No. 1 goal, says Barbara Kahn, director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school. Yes, Johnson dropped sales, but getting rid of coupons also turned customers off, she says….”

“Penney has already started bringing back discounts after an abysmal year that ended with a 32% decrease in sales during the holiday season, compared with the year before. But the retailer won’t likely entirely scrap all of Johnson’s plans, Nisch says. Partnering with new brands such as Levi’s and Joe Fresh to create specialty boutique shops within Penney stores is something Ullman should go forward with, Nisch says.”

About two months ago I went into J.C. Penney for the first time in a long time. I can’t even remember the last time I was in one. I was looking for a white blouse, and I didn’t want to drive all the way to our local mall so I thought I would just stop in and see what they had.

I had noticed their new logo and ad campaigns on TV. I liked the bright colors they were showing during the winter months. I was so surprised when I went in. I did notice the little “boutique” areas with different brands. I was very surprised by the Sephora in the store.

In the women’s section I found several nice blouses for work, but I really liked a section that I guess would have been considered juniors. It had really bright sweaters and long-sleeve shirts. I bought myself and Rose several sweaters, shirts and scarves. Everything was reasonably priced. I felt like I got some cute pieces at good prices, and I would definitely go back. (I also felt like that had some appropriate clothes for preteens and teens. Many of the items weren’t too revealing.)

One of the articles I read said the store didn’t replace enough of their old shoppers with people like me. (This is the ad campaign they are missing: Give us a try and you’ll be surprised. We have lots of cute stuff at good prices. Just come in once and see.)

So I am wondering have you been to J.C. Penney in the last year? What did you think? Did you get the little stores within a store? Had you noticed the changes? Do you ever shop there? Did they lose you as a customer with the changes?

47 comments Add your comment


April 10th, 2013
1:43 am

I’m tired of poor quality imports from India, Thailand, etc., with threads/seams unravelling, at jacked-up prices to pay for billions in stupid advertising and executive bonuses. People care about quality, price, and finding their size IN STOCK with minimum hassle. JC Penny should focus 99.9% of their money and effort into that, and cut away all the other excess, fooling around, and attempts to psychologically manipulate customers. Sane leadership would help in every department (and these corporate types need help BADLY).


April 10th, 2013
5:57 am

Not a mall shopper, so not really. My Mom called it Penney’s and that has stuck with me. My daughter fusses at me about it: “Do you call it Target’s? ” We laugh about it. We shopped at Penney’s all the time when I was a girl. We also shopped at Carson Pierre Scott, Sears, Woolworth and Golbladt’s ( sp?) in Chicago. Wal Mart had not yet arrived. Imagine it?

I like Ross but lately have been in several that are PIG PENS and if they all looked like this, I would never shop there again. Customers are SLOBS when they leave things on the floor, that they have dropped and also dangling from the end caps. Too bad the higher end stores are so much neater since: 1) they probably pay their staff more and pass that cost along 2) lower class people cannot afford it and thus do not shop there. Guess they are at Wal Mart or now Ross.


April 10th, 2013
6:20 am

I love J.C. Penney! They have great dresses, cute tops, products for the house and the cutest kids clothing. I actually started back shopping there years ago when my oldest was into Barbie. They carried a lot of products with Black Barbie on it. I was able to find night gowns, backpacks, and other clothing, even a black Barbie towel which I had monogramed with my daughter’s name. They’ve always offered clothing at great prices. I hope they don’t close.


April 10th, 2013
6:45 am

that was a really exciting story.


April 10th, 2013
6:48 am

Not so much – We have tried previously and, at the time, found the clothing to be of lesser quality. I do understand your point, however, as it relates to the “not too revealing” clothing as JCP, as I remember, has always been fairly conservative in that regard.


April 10th, 2013
7:01 am

i stopped at christmastime. i went looking for something for a friend of mine in the “women’s” department and it was shoved to the back corner of the store and there was hardly any merchandise. when i asked clerk about this was told i could shop online as online has all the merchandise and sizes availalbe.

not the right answer. not everyone is a size 2 or likes to wear clothling like a second skin. the world is full of people of all sizes and shapes.


April 10th, 2013
7:09 am

I have not really liked the changes at JCP. I used to really love the Worthington collection for work. The new styling is really not my cup of tea; sizes are hard to find especially if you need a petite. The quality has really gone down. The material has gotten much thinner for pants and the sweaters just don’t have the same feel. I tried shopping again last month for dresses but nothing fit. Everything that I tried on was poorly constructed and poorly sewn.

I do like the smaller section with not a much clothes packed into an area but poor quality selections has kept me from spending any money. I hope they can turn it around.


April 10th, 2013
7:10 am

Enter your comments here


April 10th, 2013
7:15 am

I’m not much of a shopper but Penny’s had the St. John’s Bay slacks that were a great price at $20 on sale, great quality and fit, and a variety of colors for work. They no longer carry St. John’s Bay slacks and nothing else fits like they did. I wish they’d bring them back.


April 10th, 2013
7:43 am

Glad someone takes the time to convert articles written at fourth grade level to first grade level for “busy moms”.

Are you investing in J.C. Penney? Why or why not?


April 10th, 2013
7:49 am

I haven’t been in one in a while but I did get a mailer last week with a $10 off coupon that said, “We’ve missed you!” Apparently they are figuring out who hasn’t shopped there much. Honestly we don’t buy a lot of clothes; husband and I both work from home and our son wears uniforms to school (not that he’d wear anything that came from Penney’s other than Levi’s). I end up shopping at either Ross or Marshall’s mostly and occasionally Kohl’s but I’m with you MJG – sometimes those stores are such a wreck that I don’t want to be in them. I find mid-week they’re much cleaner than the weekend.

Also I think Penney’s is an appropriate nickname since it is named after the founder James Cash Penney. My mom worked at one for a while when I was in elementary school and she always called it Penney’s.

Logical Dude

April 10th, 2013
8:27 am

Just shopped there yesterday since I had a gift card.
Fairly good selection of stuff, and they now have their “on sale” sections again “$5 and up” . It seems that there were many places with discounts. I still didn’t see the really cozy blanket that they used to have at the JC Penney Home Store.

Just Me Thinking...

April 10th, 2013
8:33 am

I use to love shopping at JCP. They had a decent quality of clothes at reasonable prices. None of their clothes was too revealing which is/was a good thing since all the other stores tend to think moms want their daughters to look like little strippers/street walkers. Now they have gone the way of many other stores. They buy cheap crap that doesn’t look good.


April 10th, 2013
8:39 am

I have shopped at JC Penney for over 40 years. Their merchandise is no longer the high quality as in the past. Clothing is now for the 20 somethings and not for the mature over 50 woman. They no longer have stylish age appropriate clothes for mature women or career women. In trying to attract new and younger customers they are turning away their long time and loyal mature customers.


April 10th, 2013
8:50 am

I’ve always heard people call it Penney’s — the ’s’ was probably in their name at some point. That was how a lot department stores were named — Macy’s, Filene’s, Davison’s.


April 10th, 2013
9:00 am

@J.K., consumers can’t really be concerned with both quality and cost. It has to be one or the other. High thread counts and domestic manufacturing are expensive. If you want those things, you have to pay for them.

Uh, Penney's is appropriate...

April 10th, 2013
9:22 am

…since it really is JC Penney’s store (possessive proper noun)…


April 10th, 2013
10:19 am

Looked at a sale paper in the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago, the clothes were cute for my teenager at a good price. I couldn’t tell from the photos about the quality. Price is a big issue for us so I’m a consumate clearance shopper. I usually go online to higher end clothiers and shop the clearance section. I’ve found the price to be comparable to other sellers but the quality is much better.


April 10th, 2013
10:59 am

No, they’ve gone over the line and are fully embracing liberalism. I only shop places that stay neutral. I don’t care what your political ambitions are…I don’t want to hear about them…and if they choose to spout on about them, they lose my business.


April 10th, 2013
11:30 am

Thanks for those who chimed in about Penney’s. It remains a joke at our house and that will not change, just as I have called it Penney’s since I have been a girl.

@joe…we saw a contestant that won a trip to Hawaii on Wheel of Fortune. We have been 3 times and it is beautiful. My husband has now declared he will no longer visit because it is a BLUE state. REALLY? I guess I should tell him about Penney’s? I visit any state that hires me and go back to the ones I enjoy, when I am not working.

@jarvis…100% agree! When you have your own business you tend to understand the the ebb and flow of $$$. I have often had people tell me that they can get a local person for much less that it would cost to fly me in. I have also had clients tell me that they had paid someone a lot more and they were not nearly as good.

I wonder how many people, who shop at Wal Mart , would be able to survive on what they pay their employees? I am willing to pay 10-20 % more for food at Publix. I think their employees are treated better! Plus, I think the store is nicer. I am sure not everyone will agree.


April 10th, 2013
11:42 am

@mjg – totally agree about Publix. I also don’t shop at Walmart as I don’t think they treat employees very well – Old Sam would roll in his grave.

Also, there really is NO retailer out there that doesn’t have a majority of clothes from China or India. people keep harping about the importance of “Made in the USA” as they flock to buy $3 made in China t-shirts at WalMart. For those of us who are middle age, we remember having far less as kids than kids today. You could actually have hand-me-downs as clothes were expected to last a long time.

One funny thing – we just bought a new house and the appliances are 25+ years old. At first I was 10% eager to change everything out with new appliances, but they run so well, that I have decided to stick with them. At my prior home all the applicances were new, and had all kinds of problems.


April 10th, 2013
12:42 pm

I have no problem with Wal-Mart. If their people wanted to, they could all be working at Publix. I don’t think one has a hiring criteria that the other doesn’t.

Kathy Smith

April 10th, 2013
12:59 pm

I have been a JCP Fan for many years. Some Stores have always been better than other. A good one was in Daytona Beach,FL. But sad to say it has gone downhill. Customer service is terrible and quality the clothes has gotten bad. The Men’s Dept. no longer has a sales person to help fit the suits. Please change back to the old JCP!


April 10th, 2013
1:51 pm

@Kathy – I find that true for almost any store. I use to LOVE The Loft, and lately their stuff is made so cheaply, and far too expensive for the quality. The only time I go there is for the clearance, as those prices are reflective of the workmanship. If I am going to buy a pair of pants that will last less than a year, I would rather pay $19.99 than $79.00. For both The Loft and Ann Taylor, the salespeople pretty much attack you when you come in, and you will be asked, over and over, if you need help. Maybe some of those folks need to work at JCP!


April 10th, 2013
2:15 pm

No, stopped, along with many others when they started using Ellen D as their spokesperson. Haven’t been back since, neither have other members of my family. They used her as a “weapon” for an agenda which was supposedly the “in” thing at the time(and still is). So I prefer to take my money elsewhere.


April 10th, 2013
3:03 pm

I used to shop there, but not anymore. The quality and variety of their merchandise has declined, AND they have decided to push a social agenda in their marketing.

K's Mom

April 10th, 2013
3:07 pm

@mjg, I will pay more at Publix too. I generally shop while my kids are in school, but the fact that they will help me to my car and have a broad coupon policy which brings their prices down and their value up is what has made me loyal to them.

JCP has lost me. I LOVED the American Living brand. I like preppy clothes and am willing to pay a bit more for stuff that lasts. American Living had wonderful preppy clothing for great prices and the quality was very good. They also had stuff for everyone in the family. Since they discontinued that brand I have not been back. I will go to Lands End at Sears or even shop Polo occasionally since their stuff is made better and washes better than most others. I spent $25 on a Polo brand golf shirt yesterday for my 3yo. It felt like a lot until I looked at Target where their brand was $12 and the fabric was flimsy. Since 2 boys will wear the shirt and since we take care of their stuff I decided it was worth the splurge. I got it big enough for K to get two seasons and L to get 2 more seasons. I got K two pairs of Polo shorts 2 years ago that have been washed so many times I cannot count and they still look brand new. My mom and I get Polo stuff at consignment sales and it is always the best looking stuff on the rack. Sorry to get off track, but I am looking for value, not a deal and JCP lost me.

Former Active Duty

April 10th, 2013
6:07 pm

Worked at Penney’s 20 years ago to pay my way through college and graduate school and I can say that:

1. It used to be a good place to go to get affordable, good quality career clothes that were appropriate for the office.

2. I did a LOT of cleaning up and straightening up after people tore apart displays and/or let their children run wild through the store, tearing things up. I won’t even begin to describe what I found in cIeaning up the dressing rooms. Hint: a dressing room is definitely not the place to leave a dirty diaper.

3. You would not believe what people brought in after Christmas to try to get a refund. Hint: If you’re going to try to “return” a gift, you might want to check to see if the store actually sold it first. You might also want to make sure that it doesn’t look worn-out either.

4. It was one of the few places where you could actually buy Cub Scout/Boy Scout/Girl Scout uniforms and clothing that was appropriate for girls and did not make them look like they were about to walk Peachtree Street.

5. The Penney’s Catalog Outlet stores on Buford Highway and off of I-75 south near the airport were pretty darn good for bargains. You could actually get a wedding dress there and I bought my prom dress there for $15.

PS. If I remember correctly, the sign at the mall entrance of Penney’s at Northlake Mall in the 1970s did read “Penney’s”.


April 10th, 2013
7:16 pm

I really like the new JCP, the store design and clothing seem a little more fashion forward than before. I’m not a big mall person, but I like the stand alone stores. My experience with customer service has been good and the prices are reasonable. Even though I’m single with no kids, it seems a good place to shop for the family, pretty good work and school clothes.


April 10th, 2013
7:39 pm

Penney’s was the go to store of my childhood. I remember the outlet store on Buford Hwy very well! I can’t say that I have been there too many times recently, though. If I am looking for low priced kids things at the mall, I usually end up at Sears or Khols. Don’t worry MJG- everyone calls it Penney’s!


April 10th, 2013
8:45 pm

Growing up, Penny’s (yes, we also call it that), was a “go to” place for clothing. I rarely shop at malls anymore, so I haven’t been inside of a Penny’s in a very long time (years), but my mom was devastated when they got rid of their discounts in favor of an ‘everyday low price”. Big mistake in her eyes.

Duluth used to have a Penny’s Home Store. I did shop there regularly…. right up until it closed its doors.


April 10th, 2013
9:21 pm

Oh, and I agree with the above Walmart comments. We don’t step foot in there! My kids (following my lead) call it Wal-Trash. When my family members come to visit, they love that we have an abundance of stores to choose from complaing they only have Walmart in their small town. But I have explained over and over that if they want more and different choices….. that have to SUPPORT those business and stop going to wal-trash for everything. I don’t know…. either they can’t see the connection or they just don’t care enough to do anything about it. Frustrating….


April 11th, 2013
7:27 am

MJG – all three kids in my house work for Sam’s Club, and their pay checks come from Walmart Corporation. Let me tell you how Sam’s treats their employees. At least 3 times a week, there is someting catered in the break room, not just for certain employees, but for ALL Employees, ALL DAY LONG. They’ve had Moe’s, Chick-Fil-A, etc cater their meals. There is always snacks for the employees, healthy snacks. My youngest works at the different store than the other two, and her GM is on a health quest. No more cookies, donuts, candy, etc. Now they put out fresh fruit.

Also, they have “Sam’s Share”. Every year, every single employee gets a bonus, for keeping the store safe. As long as no consumer has falled in their store, each employee gets a bonus. My youngest has been there since September, and her Sams Share was $550. My two older kids each got close to $1,500.00 (they’ve been at their stores longer).

Sam’s also provides 401(k) and stock options.

My youngest has been with her store for less than 6 months, and has already gotten a promotion. I see her as a GM in the near future. She started at Membership, and now, 6 months later, is the Marketing Coordinator for her store.

All 3 kids LOVE working at Sam’s. So I just thought I would take a minute and let you know they do treat their employees very well!!!!


April 11th, 2013
7:43 am

@ Mayhem, I believe you about Sam’s. I do not think it is the same at Wal Mart. I worked for Wal Mart 30 years ago and I am in touch with some ( through Facebook) who worked with me. They tell me that it is NOT the same as it used to be. We all lived in Arkansas.

Shopping at Sam’s or Costco, to me, is not the same as shopping at Wal Mart or K Mart. I was a loyal Sam’s member from 1988-2006. They lost my membership when I tried to add my son in 2005. He was added in September and then the renewal came up in December. They charged me for an entire year for him, when I had just paid his annual membership in September. I talked with everyone I could think of and finally switched to Costco. Works out great for me, as I like to buy gas at the MOG. I got an $88 rebate from Costco last year and my membership is $110 for an upgraded membership.

I would still be with Sam’s Club if it were not for the billing issue.

@ jarvis…yes those employees could work at Publix or they could go to college and then perhaps have a much better job than stocking shelves. Many do not and I have heard some complain about the way they are treated. Anyone remember Deirdre ( sp?) she used to be on the blog and perhaps will check in about the way they treated her at Wal Mart. She has a different job now.


April 11th, 2013
7:46 am

btw…we shopped at Sam’s Club in TX before we moved here.


April 11th, 2013
8:00 am

Sorry to have hijacked, but in answer to the question, yes I shop at Penney’s. Always have, always will….

10:10 am

April 11th, 2013
8:09 am

Innovation upsets people with vested interests.

As an example, in education the teachers’ unions fight innovation and reform by getting union-shill journalists to reprint phony “Why I’m Resigning From Teaching” letters and the like in their education blogs.


April 11th, 2013
8:21 am

I used to shop at Penney’s all the time, however, over the past year I have slowly stopped going to Penney’s. The stores were under stocked there was no selection of items. Many of the items did not seem to be of the quality I came to expect from Penney’s. I will give the new management a few months and I will try Penney’s again.

Brown Eyed Girl!

April 11th, 2013
8:22 am

I stopped shopping at JCPenney about 20 years ago when I had issues with them on a credit card. They misapplied a payment I made to someone else and when I came in to shop, my card was denied. I was extremely embarrassed! I told them that day I was going to pay the card off and never shop there again. I went into the store to get the balance to pay off the card and was given the amount. I paid it, left and decided never to set foot in the door again, even if it meant taking the scenic route to get to another store. About 4 months later, I rediscovered the card in the bottom of a drawer at home and decided to see if it was still active. Come to find out, not only was it active, they had been changing me for some kind of insurance and I was told the card was past due and going to collections. I asked them how long as the insurance been charged and they said for about a year. I never authorized the insurance and because I was so mad at them, I have paid for several months of it. When it was all said and done, they had to send me a check for the refund of the insurance. My sister convinced me to go in there about five years ago. I did see a cute dress and actually bought it. I bought another dress their late last year. I don’t consider myself a fan of them, but If I fail to find something somewhere else, I will peak in from time to time!


April 11th, 2013
8:25 am

We never found much in Penney’s before, but since they changed things a little over a year ago, it has become our “go to” place. We have always found a good selection of styles and sizes to suit each of us. Yes, you do find some cheaply made merchandise mixed in with better items. That is true of almost all the “discount” stores (TJ Max, Ross, Marshalls, etc.) Kohl’s is a total waste of our time and supposedly a better quality. Until the poor economy took a major hit on our spending power, we used to shop at Macy’s and Dillards and loved the quality and selection, but still found some items lacking in certain sizes. Penney’s always has the sizes we are looking for and we love the newer, cleaner look in the Penney’s stores as well. There pricing has been great and they do offer award coupons. We love the whole new concept.


April 11th, 2013
8:36 am

I LOVE Kohls, (especially the Cumming Store) and practically everything in my closet has come from there. However, I cannot stand their shoe department. Totally understocked, and not very cute selections. I have never been able to find a pair of tennis shoes in my size in Kohls.

Penney’s on the other hand, has the best shoe section. I’ve bought numerous shoes/sandals/flip flops from them. The one at the MOG is the best!!!


April 11th, 2013
12:39 pm

Sephora has been in JC Penney since before my six year old could walk. Ron Johnson doesn’t get credit for that.


April 11th, 2013
8:59 pm

“JC Penney” or “Penney’s” or whatever – doesn’t matter. They want you to shop there and tried something new – no more “sales.” It didn’t work, but at least they tried something. I hate shopping, and it’s worse when you have to juggle coupons.

Newsflash: Many (not most, not all) stores’ clothing quality has plummeted.

I shop at Kohl’s if I need something; never disappointed (fingers crossed).


April 15th, 2013
3:33 am

Am I the only one who felt that once they got rid of their catalog, the store went downhill? I never go to JCP anymore. I am strictly a Macy’s girl now.. Perhaps if they brought back the catalog, I would return to buying an occasional appliance, or piece of furniture, etc. Think about it JCP. Those little mini flyers are just not the same. I used to look forward to seeing the new catalog each season, just to tell what colors and clothing trends, shoes, etc were in for the season.


April 15th, 2013
12:22 pm

Coldwater Creek got me several years ago. There and Talbots are my go to stores.

I stopped shopping the mall stores years ago. I stopped shopping JCP’s in the 90s


April 16th, 2013
12:56 pm

I love the new JCP? Am I crazy? I don’t understand why the company is doing so poorly. I was cutting through the store to get to the mall parking lot, which sadly is the only reason I end up in
Penney’s when I noticed the colorful displays in the JCP section. Loved the boutique idea. . Liz
Claiborn section didn’t feel like the cheesy poor sister of the Liz brand found in better Dept. Stores. I have been back twice!! Youthful looking cloths appropriate for any age, great pricing. If my item was trendy and goes out of style next year I won’t feel bad because I didn’t spend a lot.
Overall it was a fun experience for me. Good job in the womans dept. jCP . Not sure why JCP is sinking. I must be the crazy one.
My one complaint would be the new roving cashier. They had taken out most of the old standard cashier desks and have opted for the sales clerks to walk around and check you out with a
handheld computer. A step into sales of the future?This would be great if you could spot the cashier roaming around. The stores are to big for this. They need an identifier like a red jacket, hat something. The old dated way seemed best. Let us come to you.

Duncan Faber

April 16th, 2013
7:35 pm

I couldn’t agree more. We always dress my two little girls in age appropriate clothing. I’m sick at how society sexualizes children. This is the site that my wife and I buy a lot of girls clothing from, because they seem to get it.