JCPenney: They’re $10 ‘Gifts,’ Not Coupons

The email suggests a reversal of the CEO's anti-discounting fervor

By Nate Wooley, InvestorPlace Writer

JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) gave its customers a gift this week. Those on the retailer’s email list were surprised to receive a note from CEO Ron Johnson that included a $10 coupon.

The  coupon caught the market by surprise, too. Johnson is on record as disliking promotional activities and retail’s reliance on sales to drive business, reported Forbes. In the email, however, Johnson refers to the $10 as an incentive for customers see take a look at JCPenney’s new stores.

Johnson has spent his time as CEO trying to recast JCPenney as a cool place for people to meet and shop. Combine that philosophical rejiggering with a lack of coupons and promotions, and same-store sales plunged 22% in the last quarter. This week’s email is an acknowledgment that the chain’s customer base isn’t changing as fast as the retailer.

The changes at JCPenney are aimed at making it more competitive with upscale Macy’s (NYSE:M) and Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) while leaving it room to compete with Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT).

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