JCPenney Giving Up On The Whole “No More Sales” Thing

Remember in January when JCPenney had that revolutionary idea — touted in a series of not at all grating ads — of getting rid of “sales,” and just lowering everyday prices by around 40%? Apparently, the shoppers of the world didn’t get the message and JCP is bringing back the “S word.”

While the retail chain did actually lower its prices — a fact confirmed for the most part by our cohorts at ShopSmart — it looks like bargain-hunters didn’t come running, perhaps because they weren’t being reminded of specific discounts via the coupon mailers JCP decried in its ad campaign.

“It’s just been kind of confusing,” CEO Ron Johnson explained at an investor conference earlier today about the transition from “sales sales sales” to “everyday low prices.”

That confusion has translated into a drop in same-store sales of 18.9% in the first three months of the “no more sales” era.

So now the retailer will get rid of the “month-long value” tag it had been using for shorter-term discounts.

“We’re moving away from the word ‘month-long value’ because no one really understood that, to calling it what we intended to do, a sale,” said Johnson.

Former Apple exec Johnson says JCP still intends to begin remodeling stores in August. The goal is to break the department store into something resembling a group of connected shops.

“Even if you redesign your stores, you still have to drive traffic to stores,” Alexander Chernev, associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, tells Reuters.

Penney tries to clarify message on pricing change [Reuters]