JCPenney Does Away With Sales In Favor Of Permanent 40% Markdowns On All Merchandise

No more waiting for items to go on sale at JCPenney, as the company has announced it’ll be marking all of its merchandise down by at least 40%. The move is part of a new pricing plan aimed at getting customers into its doors more regularly.

After the initial markdown, the Associated Press (via USA Today) says JCPenney will be rolling out a three-tiered approach to its pricing of items starting Feb. 1, to replace the hundreds of sales they used to have every year. There will be the “Every Day” low prices daily, the “Monthly Value” discounts and “Best Price” clearance deals twice a month on the first and third Fridays of each month, when many shoppers get paid.

The idea is, if the store’s pricing is predictable enough, customers will be able to rely on getting a deal there no matter what, and keep coming back to spend. It could discourage bargain-hunters always on the look out for a particular sale, however. No coupons necessary when there’s always cheaper prices — where’s the challenge in that?

The new pricing plan is part of Penney’s new CEO, Ron Johnson’s plan to attract new shoppers and bolster business. In the past, the department store hasn’t had much luck with the younger age range of consumers, and many in the industry see it as simply “boring.”

Penney’s slashing prices on all merchandise [USA Today]

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  1. FrugalFreak says:

    40% off list price, who determines the list price?

  2. Bativac says:

    So instead of improving their merchandise, they’re relying on people not savvy enough to realize that if everything is always 40% off, then it’s not a sale anymore?

    JC Penney is one of those stores I only wander into when my wife drags me. Otherwise I grab my jeans and T-shirts featuring cartoon characters from Target, where I can also purchase dog treats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

    • JennQPublic says:

      They’ve always had a strange sale-pricing thing going on, but it’s worth it. For women’s clothing, Penney’s is great. The clothes are priced near Target and Walmart, but the quality is significantly better. I get a lot more wear out of items from Penney’s, and that makes it an excellent value, overall.

    • Jawaka says:

      How would you recommend they improve their merchandise? Are their brands that they don’t carry that you’d like them to?

    • parv says:

      Local Target has men’s clothes seemingly of quality that they will wear out just by washing 2-3 times.

      And sloppy stitching now appears in clothes that I can afford (~$35 or less) everywhere (Sears, Macy’s, J C Penney, Target, L L Bean (outlet), and other similar shops), unless one goes for really expensive things like a $90 short sleeve casual shirt from Nordstrom that I returned the very next day.

  3. pop top says:

    This is an incredibly smart idea. I like a lot of JCP’s stuff, but some of it is just ridiculously pricey, and their coupons are useless most of the time because of the ungodly amount of exclusions and conditions. I hope that this works out for them and other companies follow suit.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Agreed…I never pay full price for anything at JCP because there’s always a coupon or sale going on. They make good quality mid-priced work separates and shoes; it’s not sexy or exciting, but it’s good value for money (if you don’t pay the “list” price).

      • Martha Gail says:

        I rarely shop there, but I went in for Christmas shopping. I found a $50 purse that was part of a 40% off sale and I had an additional coupon (on my phone) and in the end, I got it for $15. It was a nice leather bag and my cousin was so happy with it and I was happy with the price!

  4. VintageLydia says:

    So basically like Kohl’s, then.

    • pop top says:

      I like Kohl’s. :/

      • George4478 says:

        I like Kohl’s too. But, between the ever-present “sales” and the stacks of coupons which I get in the mail, I have never paid full price for anything.

        • tbax929 says:

          That’s a good thing. I especially like that I can use those coupon codes online, although their shipping is ridiculously slow.

          • MMD says:

            Agreed – I’ve ordered online twice. The first took almost 2 weeks to ship. The second shipped a bit faster, but resulted in a billing error that was later layered with a second billing error that took them 2 weeks to resolve. I do like the B&M stores, but I won’t bother with the website again.

          • George4478 says:

            Oh, I agree it’s a good thing. My wife and I laugh about the items advertised as “normally priced at $35, on sale for $11″. “Normally” is, apparently, defined in Kohlsland as “once, on one weekday in 2007″.

      • VintageLydia says:

        I wasn’t ragging on kohl’s! It’s a great place to buy decent clothes at a good price! I’m just saying JCP is trying to be like Kohl’s.

      • tbax929 says:

        I prefer Kohl’s. I got their store card just because of the discounts that come with it.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Wish I could say the same. I shopped there for a while, but got sick of A) merchandise that wore out faster, B) Permanent sales rather than legitimately lower prices, C) The Catalina gimmicks forcing you to continuously shop there, and D) The fact that much of their merchandise was actually more expensive than elsewhere, even after their “sale” price.

    • Chiclet says:

      So basically unlike Kohl’s because they always offer sales and coupons on their over-priced stuff. JCPenney is doing away with sales in favor of cheaper merchandise.

  5. VintageLydia says:

    So basically like Kohl’s, then.

  6. Coffee says:

    Ah, yes…the Kohl’s business model of everything being on sale all the time so we never know what anything actually retails for. That’s fun. My memory may be fuzzy, but I seem to recall Kohl’s getting fined for doing that because in whichever state they were in, something had to be “not on sale” at times for a sale to mean anything.

    • rdaex says:

      I was sure I read or heard about that a while back as well, but either I dreamt it up, or my google-fu sucks tonight

  7. Lisse24 says:

    I think this is a great idea. Sales are really hard to predict – I usually end up just going to a store and being disappointed and walking out, or pleasantly surprised and spending money. If I know that every two weekends there’s going to be a sale, I’ll go there to go shopping.

  8. Buckus says:

    So, they’re abandoning the Kohl’s method of everything on sale, all the time, and going with a more predictable sale pattern?

    Not gonna help if they still don’t have clothes younger people like.

    • pop top says:

      Oh no, no younger people in the store. How will they survive by appealing to the much larger and much more wealthy demographic of people over the age of 25?

      • clippy2.0 says:

        youth drives sales, especially in clothing. not really any striking new information there

      • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

        In the case of JC Penny, clothes that “younger” people want would refer to anyone under about 50…

    • tbax929 says:

      I’ve been in the stores the younger people like with my niece. I’m far from an old fogey, but I much prefer to shop somewhere with clothes for those of us with careers who like to dress well.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m not sure it’s a “permanent sale” like everyone is saying.

    There is a difference between their men’s socks and underwear being “on sale” 365 days a year (which it actually is). It’s quite another thing to say that the base price for men’s socks and underwear is 40% below MSRP pricing.

    If they truly are slashing 40% off MSRP permanently, as the default, then this could actually be a very consumer-friendly move. I am interested in seeing how this plays out.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, this was my thought exactly.

      I would far more likely to go to a store that I knew would have good deals across the board as opposed to going to one which might possibly have an even better deal on something I might, or might not, want.

    • frugalmom says:

      What annoys me is when you pull the price sticker off items like socks and find they were marked up above MSRP.

  10. yellowdog says:

    My wife has a JCPenney store card and we shop there somewhat regularly. No joke, there are some weeks where we receive a different JCPenney sale flyer in the mail pretty much every day. It must cost a fortune in postage to have such an aggressive mailing schedule.

    I like JCPenney, and I hope they remain affordable. I have trouble finding quality-made extra tall clothing in other clothing stores. JCPenney is basically the only place I shop.

    • pop top says:

      Have you tried Casual Mens XL? They usually have nice selection and their sales are good, especially if you are on their rewards program.

      • VintageLydia says:

        Most big and tall stores emphasize the “big” and still have very little for “tall.” My husband is 6’3″. The only shirts we’ve found that fit him decently without shrinking are JCP’s St. John’s Bay tall polos. I feel bad because he basically wears a uniform: Old Navy jeans and JCP polo. Every day. EVerything else doesn’t fit :( If Casual XL has a decent tall selection, though, I’ll check it out.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Amen. I would like to shop B+T but it doesn’t really help. XXL is simply bigger around and not longer.

          I happen to be a slightly overweight individual who has a proportionally taller upper body and shorter legs. I can fit into an XL just fine in almost all cases, I just need more material at the bottom. Clothing that fits me well oftentimes might show my belly. It’s quite frustrating.

          • VintageLydia says:

            My husband is borderline between L and XL, but even when he was a medium he would by XL and XXL because the extra material would drape long enough not to show hismidriff :/ Now that he’s a bit older, he doesn’t like rocking that sloppy look.

        • yellowdog says:

          I wear the same “uniform” too (with the exception of Arizona jeans instead of Old Navy). I feel like I’m in a reversed version of that Dos Equis commercial.

          “He is… the most boring person in the world!”

          “I don’t always wear jeans and polo shirts… actually, jes, jes I do. Stay dull, my friends.”

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          What I hate is tall women are left out. There are huge petite sections in these stores but even though I fit into the Misses sizes width-wise, I can’t buy them because the pants and sleeves are too damn short, and they pull across the shoulders. There are no clothes for someone who is tall but not obese. SO I get stuck buying bigger sizes that look like sacks.

  11. MaytagRepairman says:

    Hope it works out. I shop regularly for clothes at JCP because it is one of the closest places to where I live. I have grown weary of their fake sales — set an absurd regular price and show it on sale. The sales that pissed me off the most were buy 1 pair of jeans and get the second X% off. I would then find only one pair of jeans in my size on the shelves and then leave empty handed to head across the mall to look at Macy’s fake sales.

    • Nic715 says:

      Buy one get one for a penny always pissed me off…because it means the first item is regular price …which I’ve never paid at Penny’s …it’s a lot nicer to just have something 40 or 50% off. I get that 2 for the price of one, means each are 50% off but I only wanted one! Luckily, if they’re having a buy one get one 50% off my local Penny’s would USUALLY give you a discount on just one item if you couldn’t find a second item that you wanted, but that doesn’t happen so much any more.

  12. Firevine says:

    Sooooo…list prices are going up 40% then?

  13. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    It does not sound like they putting everything ‘on sale’ to me. It sounds like they are dropping prices across the board by 40% and informing the public that they are dong so. Then the only in store markdown type sales you will see are…
    ‘There will be the “Every Day” low prices daily, the “Monthly Value” discounts and “Best Price” clearance deals twice a month on the first and third Fridays of each month, when many shoppers get paid.’

    I like the idea, seems they are just doing away with the sale gimmicks, not adding more.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    Who ever pays list on clothing anyways? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get at least 25% off the list.

  15. u1itn0w2day says:

    Penny’s stops over pricing merchandise based on the premise it will be sold on sale.

  16. prettygoodlife says:

    Honestly, I’m not a regular Penney’s shopper, but I stopped by around the holidays and was presently surprised by what appears to be a change in their vibe. I think I could see this working.

  17. incident man stole my avatar says:

    We’re shopping for pillows and linens a few weeks back and they had lots of employees repricing everything in the store. I had to return a pillow that wasn’t comfortable and the new price was lower than the sale price that I had paid. They also seemed to round everyhing to the nearest dollar.

  18. BurtReynolds says:

    Do these “no more sales” plans ever work? Virtually no one buys at “regular price” and feels like they scored big, even if regular price is cheap. JCPenney/Kohls shoppers want deals. They respond to big percent off signs with an extra 15% with a charge card. Insisting your regular price is a great deal just won’t have the same effect.

    In fact, I’d bet the average customer would feel better after buying a $65 sweater for “50% off” than buying it for $30 at “regular price”. I’m seeing a lot of people defect to Kohls from this.

    • flyingember says:

      If the regular prices are too high you always need a sale to seem affordable. Thus people always expect a sale. But what if your sale price is higher than the regular price somewhere else? Then you seem expensive. That’s bad unless you sell on service, which JC Penny is not known for.

      So the solution is to cut your price to what you’re really selling at and become everyday affordable.

      And by being everyday affordable you’re more likely to be a first stop than a competitor. No store wants to be the place you only go when there’s a sale because they’re too expensive otherwise.

      Then sales can be marketed as “twice a year” or whatever they go with. It makes the sales look more exclusive and you drive people in to see your merchandise.

  19. Snaptastic says:

    Years ago when I got out of the military, I shopped at both JcPenny and Target for my new “business casual” wardrobe. ALL of the crap I bought from JcPenny started falling apart within a year of buying it–despite paying more money for it. However, the clothing I bought from Target is still in decent shape and usable.

    Sorry JcP, lowering your prices still isn’t going to get me in the door again.

  20. elangomatt says:

    For their sake, I hope that they don’t completely cut out publishing circulars though. A big box retailer I used to work at tried to reduce costs by more than halving the size of the weekly ad and then the number of customers coming in plummeted.

  21. caradrake says:

    JCPenneys used to send out mailers for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more. I used to get about three a year. One around V-day, one for Mother’s Day, and one towards Nov/Dec. Sometimes I’d actually get two at once.

    I miss those mailers, I haven’t seen any in the last year. I don’t know if they’ve done away with them or if I’m just not getting them.

    • rawrali says:

      For some reason, coupons just like that addressed to me are sent to my parents’ house on a regular basis. I pretty much never shop at Penney’s (and haven’t lived at home for quite some time), so I’m not sure how I got on their mailing list. My mom uses each and every one of them though, she loves it.

    • MMD says:

      I got one of those in December…it’s the only reason I went, and the first time I’d been there in the last 6 months. So maybe it varies by region or something?

    • frugalmom says:

      I got 4 of them between the beginning of November and Christmas. I’d gotten maybe 4 or 5 over the past year. I belong to JCP Rewards, though. Hubby bought a suit there and we usually get the kids pictures taken at least once a year.

  22. sirwired says:

    Translation: “We didn’t want to buy thick Sunday Newspaper Ads any longer. And we no longer wanted to deal with the chaos sale items put on our logistics and inventory systems. We are blissfully unaware that every other retailer that’s tried to wean consumers off weekly sales has failed to do so.”

  23. Lyn Torden says:

    I had to check my calendar to be sure I hadn’t slept through February and March.

  24. Kredal says:

    No longer can the punchline “There’s a sale at Penny’s!” be used when tragedy hits. RIP Airplane!

  25. mischlep says:

    Think I saw this pricing scheme this past weekend at a store in NJ. All the previous “MSRP” tags (the ones attached to the clothing) had been torn off and a new sticker affixed on the bottom of the remaining portion of the tag in its place.

    It seemed pretty straightforward. They were also doing a lot of re-arranging of the mens clothing section and clearing out winter jackets.

  26. rockelscorcho says:

    This is good. I never went without a coupon of a least 30% off or something.

  27. ansjc09 says:

    I think they started testing this with the new line, MNG by MANGO. It’s set at 20% off MSRP (always has a sticker on the tag that says 20% $XX). Maybe that has helped move some of the “younger, more hip” clothing. I really hope they keep their coupons though. I got so many $10 off a purchase of $25 dollars coupons between October and January that I had trouble actually using them, so I’d hand them off to my family and friends. I’m 25 and really like Penney’s, but I’ve grown up shopping there, so I may be biased. It’ll be interesting to see how this works. Will they still do the occasional extra X% off coupons/if you use your Penney’s card? I hope so!

  28. coffee100 says:

    Layoffs soon to follow.

    That’s all America makes now. Layoffs and litigation.

    The last American flag will fly over a motion hearing. Guaranteed.

  29. Dave Farquhar says:

    This could be a good move. Most of my window treatments came from the JC Penney home store near me. My wife always says to wait until Saturday or Sunday to go there, because that’s the day they have sales. And sure enough, whatever we want was 30% or 40% off on Saturday.

    So this could mean fewer people waiting until the weekend to come into the store.

  30. gman863 says:

    Damn. Now Airplane! is going to have to be re-dubbed.

    McCroskey: Plane is out of control!

    Stryker: Passengers doomed!

    Johnny: Where the fuck is the sale at Penny’s?

  31. vliam says:

    I fully understand the apparent motivation behind this move. There are large chunks of these stores that generate no traffic unless there are 40% off signs on everything, most of the domestics areas fall into this pattern. So, conceptionally, this seems like a good idea. If the area only gets shopped on 40%-off weeks, why not make every week a 40%-off week?

    Because shoppers have a short attention span and will quickly lose interest if you don’t continually tempt them with the promise of exceptional values. It’s not exceptional if it’s the norm.

    I get it but… he’s wrong.

  32. Carlee says:

    I rarely buy anything at JCP but when I do, it’s from the clearance rack. I’ve never bought anything at “regular” price at JC Penney’s. Once in a blue moon, I’ll buy something on sale if it’s cheap. Just over Christmas, I bought a single-serving coffee maker for work which was on sale for $25 and I had a coupon for $10 off.

    But seriously, I basically only look at their clearance stuff because everything else is way expensive. Even when it’s “on sale”, it’s still higher than stuff at Kohl’s. (And I only buy clearance and occasionally sale items at Kohl’s – never full price). One thing I don’t like about JCP (at least the ones near me) is the atmosphere. There’s just something too busy about the store – is it the layout? And the people who shop there (lots of teens)?

    I kind of miss Mervyn’s…

  33. Sunrisecarole says:

    So this starts NEXT WEEK? Guess where I won’t be shopping THIS week?

    (But I’m looking forward to checking the store on Feb. 1.)

  34. skakh says:

    This will be too confusing for most customers. Without a coupon of some sort, customers will simply shop elsewhere. Most Americans are not intelligent enough to understand pricing.

  35. IraAntelope says:

    hysterical screaming=most obnoxious commercial I have ever seen. just sayin.