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JC Penney's Holiday Season Strategy

Zacks Equity Research

“The early bird catches the worm,” as they say, and J. C. Penney Company Inc. (JCP) will open its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, Associated Press reported. This holiday season, the company intends to draw shoppers who start early and seek attractive deals. The move is a strategic attempt by the department store retailer to take a more competitive stance against its brick-mortar and online rivals.

Macy’s Inc. (M) also recently announced its plans to open its doors on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. Other retailers that count upon a similar game plan include Target Corporation (TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT). Retailers need to be ‘hawk-eyed’ this holiday season to make the most of it. They need to capitalize on every opportunity as and when they arise, and try to attract cautious, budget-constrained consumers to the stores as the season may be a tough one.

What further makes this holiday season challenging for retailers is the time frame, as 2013 presents only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas as against 31 days last year. Moreover, retailers, which witness more traffic during weekends, will have only 4 full weekends this time around versus 5 in 2012.

We believe retailers will leave no stone unturned to tap this holiday season. Be it early-hour store openings, promotional events, free shipping on online purchases or heavy discounts, retailers will try all tricks to boost sales.

Earlier, J. C. Penney holding a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stated that it will deploy approximately 35,000 temporary staff members to better serve its patrons.

J. C. Penney has been in troubled waters for quite some time, and has been grappling with waning revenues and higher losses. The company has not shown any signs of recovery in the recent past. Shares of this beleaguered S&P 500 retail chain operator have nosedived 64.7%, since the beginning of the year.

In a significant development, the company’s board of directors in Apr 2013 discharged the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ron Johnson of his duties after 17 months, as his ambitious transformational ideas failed to materialize. Consequently, the company’s former CEO, Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III was reinstated in his post.

Since then the company has taken several strategic initiatives to drive traffic. The company reverted to promotions, which could be a successful sales driver this holiday season. However, investors remain cautious about the stock, as the company attempts to recoup and give itself a major facelift.

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