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Home gets big play in new Penney catalog

More coordinated presentation, an increased amount of home furnishings and more open, but fewer pages highlight the radically revamped JCPenney catalog.

The catalog, troubled for a number of years, now is under the direction of John Irvin, former ceo of Spiegel catalog. The catalog now offers more coordinated, lifestyle-driven presentation, especially in home. In total, home accounts for 56 percent of the merchandise pages, up from 54 percent in last year's spring/ summer book.

Overall, there are 150 fewer merchandise pages with a total of 1,232 for this spring/ summer edition, compared with 1,400 last spring/summer.

And as with the stores, the catalog offers fewer items per page to eliminate the clutter of the past presentations.

Penney also has streamlined its circulation, dropping from more than 15 million last year to 14 million for this year's spring/summer book, aiming for a more targeted catalog customer, one who has a purchasing pattern with the company, according to Stephanie Brown, a Penney spokeswoman. Everything in the catalog also is offered on the Internet, and the catalog expands beyond the retail assortment.

At the same time, Penney has overhauled its specialty catalog approach, offering 28 books this year vs. 30 last year, 38 in 2000 and 41 in 1999. Home furnishings will occupy the lion's share of this year's specialty catalog offerings, with 17 books dedicated to home vs. 14 last year. One of the two home catalogs issued so far this year featured home textiles on the cover, and both offered a strong selection of home textiles in the mix.

In home textiles, the look of the new spring catalog is open, with introductory feature pages such as the bedding section that talks about "define your style," living color," romantic retreat", and "countryside."

Within bedding, specific departments are identified by pages from sheets and down to kids and sports.

Sheets run the gamut: 230-count cotton-rich and 230-count all-cotton solids; Jockey knits; cotton flannels; 250-count Egyptian cotton in solids, prints and embroideries; 340-count Pima cotton sateens; and Croscill Classic 310-count cotton sateens.

Bath, previously more segmented by product, now is shown mostly by lifestyle, although there are major statements for the JCPenney towel, the new Royal Velvet Classic towel and Martex's Grand Patrician towel.

Kids bedding takes on a new look with a wider range from licensed product to more sophisticated tweeners looks.

Dramatic color under the banner Living Color gets a big play in a wide selection of coordinates for bed and bath with accessories and rugs.

In window coverings, a product area where Penney dominates market share, the catalog boasts of the company's leadership as the window authority and mixes in window decorating tips with the merchandise. The selection ranges from its decades-old classic Supreme to new fashion styles.

An important adjunct to the window coverings selection is an expanded offering and presentation of window hardware, which Penney refers to as "jewelry."

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