J.C. Penney Brings Back Free Haircuts for Kids

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J.C. Penney brings back free haircuts for kidsNEW YORK (AP) - Children who missed the opportunity to get a free haircut at J.C. Penney (JCP) last month will get plenty more chances.

After an overwhelming response to the chain's free haircut program offer for children in August -1.6 million haircuts, to be exact - Penney will be making it a permanent offer every Sunday, starting Nov. 4.

The decision underscores the extent of new CEO Ron Johnson's efforts to re-energize the chain and transform every aspect of its business, from pricing to creating a new shopping experience.

The move comes as the Plano, Tex.-based company grapples with two straight quarters of losses and severe sales drops as shoppers, accustomed to big sales signs, have been turned off by a new pricing plan. The pricing strategy, implemented Feb. 1, involves eliminating hundreds of sales events in favor of every day prices that are 40 percent lower than last year. Starting last month, Penney tweaked its strategy to add more clearance events and to educate shoppers that they're getting a fair price every time they visit the store. At the same time, Penney is opening new shops and plans to open an area in the store that will serve as meeting places for shoppers.

Penney officials told investors in recent weeks that they've been encouraged by customers' response to the launch of the first group of new branded shops and the recent changes to its pricing strategy. And the free haircut program for children, from kindergarten through the sixth grade, also helped to bring in new customers and existing ones who didn't know about the latest merchandise changes. While Penney is still dissecting shopping patterns among families who took advantage of the free haircuts, the company believes some of them did cross the aisle to buy products.

"It definitely drove new people and reintroduced J.C. Penney to existing customers" who didn't know about the latest changes, said Jan Hodges, senior vice president of Penney's salon services, which are offered in 949 of its 1,100 stores. Penney originally thought it would give one million haircuts last month. The hairstylists earn hourly wages and are no longer paid on commission, so they were being paid anyway. Also, Hodges says it was a big win for the salons, which benefited from the boost in traffic.

Hodges added that the free haircuts also fit into Penney's mission of helping people live better. "We served a lot of different types of families," she said. She noted that the program did "help to stretch families' budgets."

As part of that overall mission, Penney will also be offering free haircuts to breast cancer survivors in October, which is breast cancer awareness month, Hodges said.

Johnson is expected to announce the free haircut program for children in a newsletter emailed to 15 million customers early Monday.


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30 Comments

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BJ

I have purchased the Cabin Creek Button down collar, long sleeved and short sleeve, WRINKLE FREE blouses for years and miss them very much...PLEASE BRING THEM BACK. i ALSO INTRODUCED these blouses to lots of friends; I am sure they also miss not being able to order them through the catalog or in store purchase. Please please bring them back.

October 03 2012 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christine

Until they change the quality of their merchandise- No free anything will work for me. If you're listening JCP- FIX YOUR ZIPPERS!!!!

September 11 2012 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

These free haircuts gimmick will not prompt me to shop at Penney's.

September 11 2012 at 5:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GERANNIE

Never mind the free haircuts. Bring back my cataloge and the wonderful drapes and spreds and stuff for the home. Thats all you do is cater to those bratty teen agers. I don't wear those stupid clothes. I am a home maker and spend plenty on clothes and home furnishings, but not at Penneys.

September 11 2012 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johnamcio

They need to give free haircuts to save the company, "Hair Salon's Bail Out JCPennY's" with a drop of 20% in sales Johnson is headed to Mad Money's Wall of Shame. By the way...the stylists can't stand doing free work on kids ...so a 20% tip on a 0 ticket is stil 0. Go figure. The salon the GM Hodges loves it since it gives her more traffic and job security. So, she will give you the party line. Crossover sales. Well, see? Hard to believe when that have such big sales losses.

September 11 2012 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donasandy

Please bring back the Cabin Creek button down collar shirts . Some change is good but you are turning off your loyal customers by changing the basic J C Penny That I have loved for50 years .

September 10 2012 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pershing7e

i worked at JCP salon last year, and they are right they wanted to pay me 8.96 an hour for my 13 years of experience, when i was making 15-20 and hour before the change. I am glad i missed this program. when I first started doing hair we used to call kids cuts "kick and screams". and from what i heard from my former co-workers most of the people who came in for the free haircut didn't even bother to tip. please tip your stylist for these haircuts, especially now that they are not on a professional wage for the talent, knowledge and work that they provide to you the guest.

September 10 2012 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pershing7e's comment
enzat

As a former JCP salon employee, I can also attest that they have not only changed their pricing policy, but changed the way they treat their employees, and not for the better. Many stylists working there are now making less than they did before, and with the free haircut offer, are so busy doing children's cuts that their regular customers (who usually tip generously, partially making up for the minimal pay) cannot even be seen. Couple that with the fact that stylists who aren't comfortable doing kids' cuts are being forced to, and many of these parents/caregivers aren't tipping at all, and one has to wonder, is JCPenney doing so poorly that they have to throw their employees to the wolves?
"The hairstylists earn hourly wages and are no longer paid on commission, so they were being
paid anyway. Also, Hodges says it was a big win for the salons, which benefited from the boost
in traffic."
If you think giving away free stuff is going to bring in anyone other than those looking for a freebie, you're mistaken. This promo wasn't for the good of the salon staff, but to drive in foot traffic and encourage failing "best price" sales.

September 11 2012 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Don Neblung

Perhaps JC Penney should give a free haircut to their long standing customers.......I would like to receive a free haircut once a month. I also would like to see Penneys upgrade the quality of their clothing, or do they intentionally want their stores to be for the "juniors". If so.........I say "goodbye".

September 10 2012 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ithinkiloveyou12

I'm seeing all these suggestions for JC Penneys, but there is only one thing they should bring back, and that's sexy. Yes, I said it. Just saying what everyone else was already thinking...

September 10 2012 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bootsnchaps60

The next thing they should do is stop calling it JCP and call it what it's best known as-J.C.Penny. Re-establish the identity.

September 10 2012 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply