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J. C. Penney to reduce its dependency on apparel

J.C. Penney always has been the go-to place where Americans shopped for affordable clothing for their family. But the Texas-based department store chain announced that it must reduce its dependency on clothing and follow where the shoppers are spending their money: services and other products, including appliances.

Penney’s is waking up to the overall seismic shift in consumer spending that is started to wreak havoc on mall-based retailers, while part of the move has to do with being less reliant on Mother Nature. It comes as Penney reported an unexpected drop in sales for the first quarter, joining a chorus of major department stores including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s that reported weak first-quarter sales results.

The latest government figures on retail sales for April underscored that shift. Gains were fueled by online spending and automobile purchases.

Meanwhile, Marvin Ellison, CEO of J.C. Penney told investors that it’s conducting a detailed review of its customers’ current and future shopping habits and will start to shift its merchandising mix accordingly.

The new approach comes as J.C. Penney Co. still is clawing its way back after a catastrophic reinvention plan under former CEO Ron Johnson sent sales and profits into a free fall in 2012 and 2013. Business had stabilized, although it has yet to fully recover.

 
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