JCPenney Holiday Blues

JCPenney CEO Predicts Ho Hum Holidays, Analysts Foresee Revival

JCPenney CEO and former Apple retail head Ron Johnson doesn’t have a very positive outlook for the holiday season. According to Forbes, the company is still trying to rebound from a marketing campaign that was less than effective. Now it would seem the company’s woes are threatening its holiday sales, as well. Although JCPenney plans to bring back its free haircuts for children program this November, the forecast isn’t good for the struggling retailer this Christmas season.

According to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Ron Johnson recently relayed the unfortunate news to JCPenney’s investors. “It has been a very hard year,” he explained. “We’re planning the back half to be very similar to the first half.”

Although this holiday season may not fare well for JCPenney, analysts seem to think that the company is poised for a revival, thanks in part to Johnson’s decision to give brands their own in-store boutiques. Daily Finance reports that Johnson intends to create over 100 like-minded shops in each location by 2015.

“We’re fired up following a sneak peek of the new JCP prototype store,” Citi analyst Deborah Weinswig explained. “JCP is clearly not out of ammo, as it showcased a dazzling display of technology, outgunning the competition. We believe that the new JCP will offer a shopping experience unlike any other in apparel retailing.”

Paul Lejuez, analyst with Nomura Equity Research, seemed to agree with Weinswig’s sentiments about JCPenney’s reconfiguration. “We want to believe this can work, and longer term, we think it will,” he said. However, Lejuez did state he wasn’t sure “how comfortable customers will be using the self checkout” kiosks. Given the lines of confused individuals I encounter at supermarket self checkout lanes on a regular basis, he may have a very valid point.

Despite CEO Ron Johnson’s admission that the holiday season may not fare well for JCPenney, at least his plan for the company’s future seem to have captured the interest of several analysts. What do you think about JCPenney’s current financial struggles?

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