Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Not even online sales can save J.C. Penney’s November

December 3, 2009

jcpThe going continued to be tough in November for U.S. retailers. Most reported disappointing sales at their stores open for at least a year in a month that kicked off the decisive holiday season.

J.C.  Penney reported that same store sales fell 5.9 percent last month compared to a year earlier. But more worryingly, J.C. Penney’s online sales fell 7.7 percent in November even as many rivals have reported internet sales that helped mitigate weakness in their stores.

For example, Macy’s same-store sales fell 3.9 percent between August and September, but online sales rose 21.1 percent. Mid-priced jeweler Zale last week announced same store sales fell 6.8 percent and online sales rose 17 percent over the same period.

And while Black Friday sales were sluggish, Cyber Monday was good for retailers.

To be sure, online sales only make up about 5 percent of overall retail sales in the United States. But they are growing and will help determine which retailers will thrive. 

J.C. Penney said on a prerecorded call that its website is one of the most popular sites and that online sales had picked up over the Black Friday weekend. For the sake of Penney, it will need to continue to do so, lest the retailer miss out on one of the few slivers of growth in retail.

(Photo: Reuters)

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