retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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• The New York Times reports that JC Penney, having brought back the CEO it fired, now is bringing back strategies that it abandoned.

"From increasing promotions to bringing back house brands like St. John’s Bay, Myron E. Ullman III, the new C.E.O., is erasing most of the changes made by Ronald B. Johnson, the former Apple retail head who started with much fanfare in 2011," the Times writes. "After significant changes and several disastrous quarters, Mr. Johnson was fired this spring and Mr. Ullman, who had been his predecessor, resumed command about five weeks ago ... Penney has already started to reverse Mr. Johnson’s overhaul by restoring a pricing system in which it artificially marks some items up and then down to give the appearance of a discount. Customers wanted to buy items 'at the price-promotion calculus they were used to; that’s how they want to shop,' Mr. Ullman said. And while Mr. Johnson decried the number of promotions Penney conducted each year, Mr. Ullman says he wants to bring back event promotions 26 times a year, often around holidays like Mother’s Day."

I know that I may not be in the majority on this one, and I'm not part of JCP's target consumer, but y'know what I call the practice of marking up prices only so they can then be artificially reduced to make it look like the sale is more than it actually is? A lie.

And by the way, if you want to find a CEO pronouncement that is a total crock, check out this one from Ullman: “We’re looking forward, not back." Another lie, methinks.

KC's View: