Predictions About Bad Weather Hurting Retailers Didn’t Come True At JCPenney

For most of the season that we would normally call “winter,” retail prognosticators have predicted poor sales at department stores and clothing stores, since people don’t go shopping for winter coats when it’s still warm enough to go outside in a T-shirt. Now the unusually warm weather is over, though: how did retailers fare? In the case of JCPenney, not as badly as anticipated.

While Macy’s announced both poor sales and upcoming store closures yesterday, JCPenney shared the news that same-store sales were up during November and December, and sales this holiday season were up 3.7% over last year, in spite of the effect of warm weather on apparel sales.

JCPenney, you might remember, has spent the last decade embarking on and then undoing a disastrous business-model makeover by former CEO Ron Johnson. The company finally found an outside candidate willing to take the job in former Home Depot executive Marvin Ellison, who took over in August.

Those most recent results show that Ellison’s plans to reuse his broad strategy from Home Depot, which he described back in June, worked out: the company’s online business has picked up, reporting record high e-commerce sales this holiday season.

At this time last year, the retailer was announcing that sales were up, but announced plans to close 40 stores.

J. C. PENNEY COMPANY, INC. REPORTS HOLIDAY UPDATE AND PLANS TO DELIVER POSITIVE FREE CASH FLOW IN FISCAL 2015 [Press Release]