Women Are Fleeing Coupon-Free J.C. Penney, New Poll Reveals

JCPenneyWe're nearly a year into Ron Johnson's tenure as CEO of J.C. Penney (JCP), and the results aren't encouraging. Its share price has fallen more than 10% under the former Apple (AAPL) and Target (TGT) executive, and now, a new report suggests that female shoppers are fleeing the retailer in droves.

BIGinsight, a consumer research firm, recently released the latest iteration of its Consumer Equity Index, which identifies how different retailers are viewed by various market segments. In this case, they polled more than 9,000 women for their opinions about which stores they prefer when it comes to clothes shopping.

Of the top 10 apparel retailers, nine either held steady or gained in market share among women between September 2011 and September 2012. Only J.C. Penney lost ground during that period -- which more or less coincides with Johnson's first year in charge. During that 12-month span, the number of women identifying J.C. Penney as their favorite clothing store dropped more than 13%.

Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for BIGinsight, says that this translates to about 1.3 million women ditching J.C. Penney as their favorite shopping destination. While Penney's still ranks third in the category behind Walmart (WMT) and Kohl's (KSS), she says there's little doubt that it will soon be passed by Macy's (M) for the bronze medal in the category.

"I think what's hurt J.C. Penney is that they've taken away these deals and coupons," says Goodfellow, referring to Johnson's new -- and widely pilloried -- "fair and square" pricing strategy. "Shoppers are still very much gravitating toward promos and deals ... When you're receiving Macy's coupons in the mail, you have more incentive to head over there."

What is your favorite retailer for apparel shopping?
Walmart1 (25.0%)
Macy's1 (25.0%)
J.C. Penney1 (25.0%)
Kohl's1 (25.0%)
Johnson has shown signs of backtracking recently: Penney's offered a $10 coupon late last week. The company was quick to insist that it wasn't a coupon but a gift, and thus didn't constitute a reversal in policy, but Goodfellow joins other industry observers in opining that J.C. Penney should indeed reverse its pricing and sales strategy before it's too late.

"Shoppers have been educated to expect those gimmicks and give them a reason to head out to the mall," she says. "Given the type of retailer [J.C. Penney is], these promos are what motivate shoppers."

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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I was a 40 year steady customer......I HATE the new look...cheesy and no more of my favorite St. Johns brand...I go to Kohls now and save $$$$.

January 27 2013 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate the new JCP, I cannot find any clothes. Catering to the very young and thin.Everything is very modern, but not everyone is in to modern. I like the old traditional JCP. I hope this doesn't make it long.

January 25 2013 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I LOVE the NEW JCP. I have found some of the best bargains there, ever and I like the quality of the clothing.
My daughter, who usually shops at Nordstroms only, has begun to go there. I have done some comparing with other stores and with JCP I am finding their regular every day prices are the same as those touted in the newspaper as being a HOT sale. Then you have to hasstle with the coupons. THEN, to top it off have you looked at the Clearance Racks? I have 4 pair of pants in my closet that were $52. I bought them for $8.00 a pair. YES, $8.00. I have several tops....same thing, but a little more than $8.00. I also like the way they have sectioned it off with name labels. I GET it. I believe it is the coming trend. JCP started it. You just wait...I'll bet you will begin to see other stores do the same thing. And you can shop online and have it sent to the store so no postage. I have done that a few times. But it's best if you know the size and the brand that works for you best. Please give JCP, who has been around forever, a chance.

January 01 2013 at 1:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree Ladies... I shopped at JCP for many yrs, and since they did this change I hate it, I will not spend $1.00 in that store anymore. I know my prices through out that store inside and out, they say they lowered prices....BS. why would I pay for a pair of Worhtington pants at JCP, $25 to $35, when back in the day they would do either 50% off all Worthington and then of course the COUPONS that they no longer have. so you do the math... noway am I shopping in JCP, sadly to say. All they need to do is go back to the way it was and trust me they will see sales increased. I dont even know what they were thinking to make such a horrible change like this. I will honestly say I miss shopping in JCP, I got most of my clothes along with other stuff in the store, I pray that one day soon it goes back to the way it was before we all see the doors close for good. The clothes in the store are more geered gor teenagers or younger adults. I can go on and on how I hate the way JCP is...... but I will only get myself upset along with all you ladies. I will spend my money in Kohl's where proces are lower they have sales and coupons, along with discounts all the time

November 09 2012 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lily Strom

The quality of JCP has declined while the prices have gone up. I bought a beautiful East 5th brand Petite Xl genuine leather jacket for a wonderful price when I was in college, and it has been my all time favorite, go to jacket for all seasons of the year for the past 10 years. They have carried this exact same, classy, timeless style at a great price every year until now. I need to replace my old jacket and can't find any store that sells petite XL leather jackets, and certainly no place that sells them for under $150. JCP doens't even sell real leather anymore. All they have this year is pleather crap in styles that would only appeal to teenagers.

October 30 2012 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to always be able to find what I wanted at JCP but not any more. I am a plus size and that department has very limited selections and seems to cater to young women - loud colors, large prints, plunging necklines - not something a mature customer like me is looking for. Plus when I stop by there I am usually on my lunch hour with limited time and it seems that all the cashiers are at lunch too. There will be a line with 6-8 people and only one person checking out. My husband used to always buy his suits there but the selection is also limited and cheap looking. In the past I also shopped from the catalog a lot and really miss that.

October 25 2012 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The current state of JCP stores SUCK big time! I was a regular shopper, but like other commentors the floors are scarce of quality products for men and women! No more discounts! No more coupons! I had to go to Sears to find a decent Fall jacket! They had plenty! The stores look as if they decided to close down, then they could be emptied of everything overnite! Gone to the doggs! I can even find good underwear! What a pity!

October 23 2012 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I found the bigger problem to be the changes to their website. They keep items on the website that are completely out of stock, and they've removed the "quick look" feature so it takes FOREVER to even figure out if an item is available in one's size. I've switched to Kohl's solely because it's easier and quicker to shop online. Shopping in the store is out of the question since they took away most of the cash registers and make you turn around and walk further into the store to wait in line at one of the very few places to check out.

October 23 2012 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ted Dubin

What did they expect putting someone from Apple in charge? Apple stores are unpleasant - crowded, confusing (hard to compare products), run by haughty geeks. People only go to Apple stores because they want Apple products.

JCP looks terrible now - skimpy inventory (looks like a going-out-of-business sale in progress), products arranged by brand instead of department, low quality clothes (trying to be Target?), nothing on sale except on their (inconvenient) schedule.

See Macy's or Kohl's for examples how to do it right.

October 22 2012 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ladies are not the only ones staying away from JCP. Us guys are value concerned too.
This week I got a letter from GE Finance which is the JCP credit card financial holder. They are raising the interest rate to 27% on the first of the year. Well, I haven't used the card in a while and its crazy to do so again. There is a phone number to call if you disagree with the rate increase. If you disagree, they will disable the card.
I'm really thinking, So what! Just another reason to cross JCP off my list.
The real kicker, they are blaming the new consumer credit card protection laws coming into force. Nice try, morons! Nothing but Banksters!

October 22 2012 at 12:24 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply