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JCP: Price Tweaks a Tactic, Not a Strategy Change

NEW YORK - JCP ceo Ron Johnson held his quarterly sit down with analysts here earlier this month to discuss what he described as two businesses: the old JCPenney, "which is a promotional department store," and the new JCP, "which is a start-up."
     Insisting the new JCP is not retreating from its streamlined pricing strategy and elimination of promotions, he described a series of steps that certainly lean in that direction.
     • While the customer "knows what the right price is" for merchandise, she still likes to see a comparison price. So signs are going up listing the manufacturer's suggested price (with a slash through it) along with JCP's everyday price. This is still Fair + Square pricing, said Jonshon. It just gives the customer a point of reference.
     • When a national brand holds a national promotional event, JCP will take part. When Jockey does its semi-annual sale, at JCP the signage will read: "Now 25% off our Fair + Square price, provided by Jockey."
     • Black Friday is "an American institution," and JCP will be participating. "And it'll be a doozy," said Johnson. "We'll have some of the lowest prices in JCPenney history."
     • After a year in which JCP has run no promotions, there will be one promotion that runs from Black Friday through Dec. 23 called Merry Christmas America. Although this is a single promotion, a large portion of seasonal merchandise across the store will carry lower prices.
     • The $10 offer JCP sent out in October via email and direct mail was a gift, not a coupon. It was also a test. JCP may well do it again. "I don't want to feel like I'm breaking some promises with the retail gods," said Johnson.
     • And free in-store haircuts for kids are back. They began Nov. 4 and will be offered every Sunday going forward.

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