J.C. Penney Employee: 'I Fear We're Turning Into Sears'

H. is just an ordinary employee of one city’s flagship J.C. Penney store somewhere in America, but tells us that since the company’s “fair and square” rebranding effort began, things are looking grim. According to H, without coupons to lure them in, the customers just aren’t coming, and quiet layoffs have begun.

I write this as a commentary of the new “fair-and-square” jcpenney under new CEO Ron Johnson. I’m in [state redacted], in the flagship store in the flagship mall of the area, and we are going downhill bit by bit. Fair and square is a failure. Retailers will not tell a customer that outright, but it’s true. We are sinking around lack of coupons (there are coupons, but you have to work for it) and lack of business.

On the final day of April, the store secretly fired five managers, one of which was my department. Corporate sent out an email, and the store manager followed – one just got back from vacation, one is on vacation, and the other three were off and were told to come in. And the secret spread like wildfire, so a meeting has been called for May 2nd to discuss the fact that we’ve lost close to 25 associates (via firings and resignations), five managers, have only five people working the entire second floor, the possible elimination of the catalog department, and the elimination of two register areas (loss of six registers total).

All of this is because of fair-and-square. We have lost our way and corporate keeps saying “It will get better. Customers will come around. We still have sales, trust us!” Some nights, we have one associate working an entire department alone. I fear we are turning into Sears, the laughing stock of retail establishments.

Associates like me, who are full-time and have been here for two years, and those who have been with the company for over ten, fifteen, even twenty years, know the ship is sinking slowly, and corporate doesn’t believe that.

Consumerist (and the comment theater with your witty banter), what do we do now?

At the beginning of April, the company cut 13% percent of staff at its Texas headquarters, about 600 employees. A Pittsburgh customer service call center that employs 300 people will close this July. Cutting expenses by $900 million in the next two years was part of the plan, but profit does require customers. They just need to figure out how to get customers in the door.

Maybe customers are afraid to visit after the weird, off-putting commercial featuring screaming shoppers that aired to promote the rebranding.


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