Did JCPenney Actually Lower All Its Prices By 40%?

Back in January, JCPenney dove head-first into its rebranding efforts by announcing it would get rid of nearly all of its short-term sales in favor of marking down everything by 40% all the time. So did they actually follow through on their promise?

Our more stylish siblings at ShopSmart did some before-and-after comparison shopping at JCP and found that by and large, the retailer had significantly dropped its prices — though that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best deal at the store.

According to ShopSmart, JCPenney had marked down 11 of the 14 items on its list by at least 40%, with six of them actually marked downy by at 50% or more. One item — a pack of Gold Toe socks (which always seem to end up in my Christmas stocking) — had only been marked down by 5%, while on the other end of the spectrum, the price on a St. John’s Bay coat had dropped by 60%.

However, doing a bit of comparison shopping at other stores found cheaper prices on some times. For example, the twin pack of Rachael Ray skillets was $8 cheaper at Target, and Walmart had the Shark Navigator vacuum for $11 less than JCPenney’s price.

Unfortunately, it looks like the cost-cutting at JCPenney also involves losing some jobs. The retailer announced today it would be closing a call center in Pittsburgh, resulting in the loss of 300 employees. Another 600 employees at the JCP headquarters in Texas are set to be laid off.

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  1. StarfishDiva says:

    Well, displaced job seekers, we have a couple of call centers opening here in Upstate SC, I’ll welcome you with open arms? Just.. do me a favor and PLEASE stay out of the meth.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Do your call centers pay people enough to uproot their family and separate from their extended family? I doubt it. What’s needed is for jobs to go where people are and are looking for work.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        being a call center employee who is trying very hard to get my employer to approve working from home, i still don’t quite accept that it’s not somehow lower overhead for call centers to go away and let those happen wherever the employee is. decentralization just seems to make more sense to me

        • BobOki says:

          There are tons of issues from administrative, HR, and IT perspectives with Remote users. “Injured in the workplace” for example… a nightmare. How much downtime do you have if you are in Cali and your IT is in Dallas when your HD dies? I am quite sure the list goes on and on.

          That said, I love working from home, even if the only time I do if when I am doing TONS of OT and studies show that the average user gets 2-3 times more work done. Then again, as a IT guy myself, 90% of my job can be done remotly.

      • homehome says:

        That depends on the call center and where you worked before. If you go to a place that has a lower price of living, that pays you more, you can write off your moving expenses in your taxes and it would make very good sense.

    • BlkSwanPres says:

      Yes stay out of the Meth, it’s for guests only.

  2. Shorebreak says:

    James “Cash” Penney is turning over in his grave at what has become of his retail and catalog establishment .

  3. valthun says:

    Seriously though, who buys a Rachel Ray pan, or kitchen item. I just don’t get celebrity named kitchen tools. They are the same thing as those super cheep tools with no name, but with a higher price.

    But good on JCP for at least lowering prices, not that I would be shopping there.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      “I just don’t get celebrity named kitchen tools.”

      It’s so you can show off to your family and friends that you have “class” and can afford “name brand” things. Ego is a huge basis for buying useless, name brand things.

      • Coffee says:

        The irony is that if you have family members or friends who are actually into culinary shit, they’ll look at your Rachel Ray knives and silently judge you because you’re not using Shuns or Henckels.

        • Costner says:

          Actually I know a former chef and full time knife snob, and he looks down his nose at anyone who would even consider buying Henckels. He mentioned a few brands that are of “acceptable quality” and none of them are sold in your typical retail outlets. I recall he mentioned Cutco… which is dandy, but I’m not about to spend $1500 for a set of knives.

          My $49 set of Kitchenaid does everything I need it for considering most of the time I’m cutting up a banana or a potato. I realize cheap knives may not stay sharp as long, but provided you have a sharpening stone and a rod I dare say they will do the job just fine.

          • Coffee says:

            Yeah…cooking is like any other hobby…it seems like no matter how much you spend, there’s something out there a little bit better than costs twice as much. That’s why I don’t worry too much about it…when it comes to buying something like knives, I look for a set that feels good in my hand and stays sharp.

            • Kate says:

              Cool, then I can go ahead with my plans to give you a set of Rachel Ray knives for Christmas, I know you will use them now.

              • Coffee says:

                It’s always nice to have a cheap knife that you can dispose of as far away from the bodies as possible. Thank you in advance.

          • Not Given says:

            Someone gave DH a set of knives that had come free with some large purchase thay had made. I looked it up and it retails for $130. I consider that a quality knife set. I can’t even imagine paying that much for one knife much less $1500.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          Those in the know, know.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i’d just judge you because i have observed rachael ray to be an idiot. i still can’t forget when she said on one of her travel food shows: “and their ancestors still live here to this day!”
          haven’t been able to see her picture/brand since without thinking about that

        • dilbert69 says:

          My Thai cooking teacher, one of the best cooks I’ve ever known, bought all her kitchen equipment, including knives, in Oakland Chinatown for a tiny fraction of what the name brand ones cost.

    • dpeters11 says:

      Yeah, like an Emeril All Clad pan has no comparison to a normal All Clad pan.

    • redskull says:

      Last year I worked at a bank that still gave out free gifts when you opened a checking account. The majority of the gifts were generic kitchen items like mixing bowls and glass sets. We normally moved an acceptable amount of this merchandise, enough to continue with the program. Then one month we offered a Paula Deen Loaf Pan. It sold out immediately and we had hundreds of requests for more. Bear in mind that this was just a plain old loaf pan. Neither Ms. Deen’s perpetually smiling face or her signature was anywhere to be seen on the pan. There was nothing whatsoever to identify it as her product. Nevertheless, just saying it was one of her brands was enough to ignite a frenzy. I don’t understand it, but people apparently buy into the celebrity product game.

      • baquwards says:

        I bought a Paula Deen muffin/cupcake pan with her name on it. I bought it at a discounter only because it was a heavy, high quality professional style pan. It seems that her first line of bakeware was really good stuff, comparable to stuff found at William Sonoma (they are so over priced). The newer stuff she is shilling looks like crappy run of the mill stamped out crap.

    • KyBash says:

      Celebrity-branded items are sometimes a good value. Many celebs actually care about what they put their name on, and their initial offerings are higher-than-average quality with minimum mark-up.

      It’s when they see they’re not raking in the money that it becomes overpriced garbage.

      If you want good quality pans at a decent price, go to a restaurant supply house (it’s been my experience that you get the best for the least at those places which aren’t customer-friendly).

      • Costner says:

        I have heard some good things about some of the Rachael Ray stuff, and I can see her being the type who personally signs off on all of the items that bear her name.

        On the other hand, Paula Deen is very much the type who would slap her name on anything if you gave her a big enough check, and for the record her cookware is just damn ugly. That woman annoys me so much – and her product shilling annoys me even more. How people fall for that fake southern charm and trademarked smile is beyond me.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          She even signed a marketing deal with diabeetus!

          • Costner says:

            I know… the woman who adds a stick of butter to every recipe and who knew about her diabetes diagnoses for years only admitted her diagnosis after she could shill for a diabetes testing supply company.

            Classy!

            • Cor Aquilonis says:

              Why would butter cause diabeetus? It’s a fat, there’s little or no insulin involved in butter digestion, right? So wouldn’t the culprit be all the sugar and starches she cooks with?

              (I am not a doctor, but I am a butter enthusiast.)

              • RxDude says:

                Obesity causes Type II diabetes. A stick of butter with every meal will likely make you fat.

              • Costner says:

                Generally speaking, people who consume massive quantities of butter and fat become heavy, fat, obese… whatever you want to call it (Deen herself included). Obesity is a major risk factor for Type II Diabetes, which is why she caught so much flack for hiding the fact she was diabetic for so long, and only admitted it after she had an endorsement deal.

                As Anthony Bourdain quipped, “thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

                I mean honestly, the woman cooks fatty foods all the time and invented a burger that used a doughnut instead of a bun…. she isn’t exactly known for a healthy lifestyle.

        • bbf says:

          Considering the fact that Rachel Ray isn’t a trained chef, nor ever purported to be one… just a cute gal that got her start doing travel shows about eating Cheap… wouldn’t make me confident that having her “sign off” personally on cooking implements with her name on them.
          (Don’t just take my word, Anthony Bourdain, doesn’t think much of her cooking skills either, but does admit she’s likeable.)

          I’ve actually read that the “Bobby Flay” line of endorsed cooking implements actually are decent items, but far from being the best value.

          But with all things, like soda and beer, the un-celebrity endorsed products are usually a better deal…

          Except the Jamie Oliver endorsed stuff that I find at Marshall’s (they’re imported from the UK and sold cheap here at Marshall’s to avoid flooding the market in the UK) ;)

          http://foodnetworkhumor.com/2009/03/anthony-bourdain-wants-to-get-drunk-with-rachael-ray/
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/anthony-bourdain-food-network_n_930742.html

      • impatientgirl says:

        Some of it is garbage but some is not. I’ve seen quite a few specialty items from FN chefs that I wouldn’t find except at a very high end specialty store. I do not however buy into their “everything is better because its mine” marketing scheme.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    If the James Cash Penney stores reduced the Suggested Retail Value prices by 40%, then they are now selling at a normal, if still not inflated price. Wait until the prices are 75% off or more then you know you got a “decent” deal.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Well they said they reduced prices, not that they’re cheaper than everywhere else. Big difference!

    • Charmander says:

      I went there the other day and bought several cute shirts and a skirt for my daughter – $2 for the shirts and $4 for the skirt. Such a good deal!

      If you go on the first and third Fridays of the month, that’s when they mark down their clearance items (though they don’t call them clearance any more.)

  5. milkcake says:

    I think it’s a good strategy. I like that they lowered by 40% in average. That means I can go into the store and expect not to get ripped off. Sure you can find cheaper at other stores, but that’s the case for number of items in any store. And JCPenny is not exactly oozing BARGAIN retailer either. They are just making it simpler for customers to just come in and get what they need at not so outrageous prices. I’ll take that.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    The new pricing IS much easier to navigate. You see, from a distance, what is a regular price, sale price, or “lowest” price.

    I didn’t realize how much easier till I went over to Macy’s, and found a jacket marked as $160, then 40%, then 10%, plus another 5% off.

    I can do math, but just tell me the price.

  7. IGetsAnOpinion says:

    As soon as I heard they were dropping prices by 40% I headed to the store to get a second set of these sheets I absolutely love by them. Fit perfectly and comfortable. Store didn’t carry them. So I went online and found them – $70. Funny thing is, when I bought the original set they were on sale for $60. I want the sale price back!

    • ajaxd says:

      It will go on sale. It’s just the regular price is not a rip-off. When you see something priced at $100 and you know you can buy it for $50 you think “no way I am paying this much”. When you see it regularly priced at $60 you might say “ok, it might go on sale later but I need it now I’ll buy it”, or you might wait for the sale. Either way, you don’t feel ripped off or like they are gaming you.

      • jesusofcool says:

        I don’t know about that. The big announcement has been that the constant sales are disappearing and going to be replaced by fewer, smaller sales at specific times. The only reason why I ever went to JCPenney was because if I hit the right day and item, their marquee sales could sometimes be combined with a coupon for a really great bargain on something basic that I needed. Same reason I shop at Kohls – sales + coupons, even when the stuff starts out overpriced, can occasionally work out to be a pretty darn good deal. Not convinced by Penney’s new strategy of “reasonable (neither super low nor overpriced) prices with less coupons and sales and I don’t think other shoppers like me look for the most bang for their buck will be either

  8. qwill says:

    I was at JCPenney yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at their low prices. They weren’t pulling the old price the Tshirt at $32.00 and then mark it down 60%. I will probably go there more often because of this.

  9. polishhillbilly says:

    J.C. Penny’s newspaper ads sure look like GAP’s graphic designers upchucked on them.

  10. Costner says:

    Can’t say if they lowered all their prices, but I know I enjoy shopping there a lot more now. I don’t need to feel that I’m missing out just because I forgot to scour the internet for a 15% off coupon before buying something.

    Their children’s clothes section is priced well, they stock quality merchandise, and their clearance racks are still one of the best deals in retail.

    Plus because of their new pricing, I don’t have to worry about catching something on sale or dealing with price adjustments if something goes on sale a week later. I can just buy it and know I paid a fair price. In some cases it might be a buck or two more than Walmart, but honestly…. I’d spend a few bucks more than Walmart merely to avoid going to Walmart. My sanity is worth at least that much, and by the time I find a parking space at Walmart I’m already regretting the decision to go there.

    Seriously even if I knew JCPenny was a consistent 10% more than Walmart… I’d still avoid Walmart.

  11. sparc says:

    The old pricing was substantially better with coupons. I bought a spring jacket that essentially doubled in price due to their new pricing scheme.

    it’s going to take a long while to get used to them pricing this way.

  12. TriplerSDMB says:

    Typo time – “six of them actually marked downy”
    “comparison shopping at other stores found cheaper prices on some times”
    If the author copied the article from the first site or wrote it themselves there’s still no excuse for not catching these errors if they’d only re-read what had been written. There are more and more typos on Consumerist and there’s no good reason for it.

  13. Cooneymike says:

    Its good to hear JC Penny is still in business, I guess.

  14. Cooneymike says:

    Its good to hear JC Penny is still in business, I guess.

  15. Jawaka says:

    So my question is if JCP cut their prices by 40% but the competition can still out price them on certain items does this mean that JCPs prices were 40%+ more than the competition before this change or are they just using Khols math now? I can’t imagine that they could have remained in business all this time if their prices were more than 40% more than the competitions.

  16. missminimonster says:

    My boyfriend bought some Jockey undershirts and the red sticker affixed over the MSRP said $30, which is obviously what he paid. When I peeled it off, though, I saw that the MSRP was $24.99. I guess that was an exception to their rule.

  17. TasteyCat says:

    I shopped at JCP the other day. Good price on shoes. Just okay price on a shirt. But the thing that I would view as the biggest problem is that they seem to have gotten rid of all coupon codes. Lacking that is likely to impact my purchase decisions.

  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I miss catalogs. :(

    Most of the JC Penney’s clothing doesn’t fit me, as I’m tall and have long arms and legs. Pants and shirt sleeves are always too short. Coat sleeves too, although I did find a nice St. John’s Bay purple parka at the damaged/overrun outlet store for an absurdly low price.

    Got a $130 pair of Birkenstocks there for $25, too. :)

    • LastError says:

      JCP has a Big & Tall section in every store, which is actually pretty rare among general merchandise clothing store. Most chains don’t bother at all.

      With Big & Tall throughout my family, getting clothes at JCP is about the only thing we all agree on.

  19. Raanne says:

    If i recall correctly, doesn’t Gold Toe set the prices for their products, not the individual retailer? This may be an instance where JCPenney was not able to reduce. I would imagine it is the same for all of the products that also usually have exclusions on the back of coupons, as those are products that do not allow individual stores to sell below what they deem to be market value.

  20. MacUser1986 says:

    So some people gain savings and other lose their jobs?

    Seems fair…

  21. ancientone567 says:

    I never shop at any brick and mortar stores anymore because the prices have always been too high. I do go to the mall to test things out before I buy them online. Just look online and you will find a much better deal. The best example I can give is I found a Polo bed cover I wanted for 600- at Macy’s. I found the same exact one online for 59 + 8 shipping. it took me an hour to find it at that price but it was worth it.

  22. 4Real says:

    I went to JCP lately and they no longer have a clearance section. So everything is just one price. I use to love their clearance section I would find jeans for $5. Oh well rather go to Macys