JCPenney: Will you survive?

JCPenney is a place of mixed feelings for me. I’ve visited a few locations spanning 2 different states and they each vastly differ from the other. The California locations in San Diego and Orange County are so sad and depressing that I usually can’t wait to get out of there. I only visit them if someone I’m shopping with wants to go or if I really want to go to the Sephora inside JCPenney. The California locations are often empty and the clothes do not look appealing. The displays look outdated and the floors are usually dirty. I view JCPenney as a place to score some cheap clothes that are better quality than the usual Forever 21 standard. I can’t even bring myself to browse the store for a quick deal since it looks so unappealing to me. I’ve also been to an Ohio location and the store and vibe is much different there. The JCPenney there was clean, the store was easy to navigate, and the displays looked appealing. The last time I went was for Black Friday, a day where stores can become messy but the store was brimming with shoppers yet wasn’t messy.

There is obvious potential for JCPenney. Clearly, they are doing something right at some locations since they are brimming with people but not at others because those stores are empty and rejected.  I think JCPenney needs to tap into their different markets and research how different locations view JCPenney as a company. There has been talk of JCPenney losing sight of their core customers because of their pricing. Instead of giving out coupons like they normally do, they started to slash prices instead. Personally, I like the coupon method because I can choose what item I want to buy for a lower price instead of seeing something I want and passing it up because it’s not on sale. Now, they’ve mostly reverted back to the coupon method but they lost many customers in the process since the lower price method was too confusing for them.

Their partnership with Sephora was most likely started to help with foot traffic and advertising. However, if people go inside JCPenney to shop at Sephora and aren’t enticed to browse the clothes there as well then this needs to be changed by adding trendy displays near the Sephora stores. Whenever I go to JCPenney in California for the Sephora stores, I don’t stop to browse the store on my way out. The displays don’t call out to me or look trendy so I am not tempted to make additional purchases there.

Overall, JCPenney as a whole looks sad and dejected. I’m not saying they should become a fast fashion trendy company but no one wants to shop at a depressing place. In fact, becoming a fast fashion store would most likely hurt them and alienate them further from their current customers. There has been talk of closing down JCPenney stores that are not doing well and aren’t making profits which is good so that they can focus on the remaining stores. JCPenney has been working on rebranding the company by carrying some trendier brands and working on partnerships with designers. One partnership they pursued is the one with Aaron Marino, or Alpha M. Increasing their partnerships and endorsements with influential people in the fashion and entertainment industry will help potential customers view JCPenney in a new light. Hopefully, they can work on the overall appearance of the store itself so people will want to actually shop in them. As for the online shoppers, I don’t believe that JCPenney will be able to gain more shoppers that way unless they make their stores and brand more appealing. People currently reject JCPenney because they don’t find it appealing so they will not be likely to shop online if they don’t find items they want there. JCPenney has potential and I’ll be watching to see if they tap into it or continue their downward spiral to join Sears.