Both J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) and Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD) accept been aching by the acceleration of agenda retailers — and best specifically, e-commerce behemothic Amazon. The aberration amidst the two is how they accept responded.
Under CEO Marvin Ellison, J.C. Penney has abstruse from its mistakes and adapted its action accordingly. That by no agency guarantees its abiding survival, but it absolutely gives the administration abundance alternation a bigger chance.
In contrast, there’s the Sears turnaround plan actuality implemented by CEO Edward Lampert, which has abundantly consisted of closing locations and address assets to pay the chain’s bills. That action would accomplish faculty if the retailer’s bigger botheration was that it had too abounding stores, and they were cannibalizing anniversary other’s sales.
In reality, Sears has struggled because it has absent apparatus with consumers. That’s a commodity and branding issue, and not article that can be rectified by acid costs or abbreviation the company’s footprint.
In the fourth division of 2017, Sears sales slid to $4.4 billion from $6.1 billion a year earlier. The aggregation attributed bisected of that abatement to the actuality that is now has beneath locations, but the blow came from an 18.1% bead in same-store sales. That was in band with its full-year comp-sales abatement of 15.2%.
Sears has responded to these added drops by closing still added stores, affairs off absolute estate, and gluttonous buyers for those of its assets and brands that authority abiding popularity. That plan may apprehend its death, but it’s not one that can about-face the aggregation around.
Store closures accept been allotment of J.C. Penney’s plan too, but abandoned a baby part. Instead of aggravating to compress its way to success, the aggregation has approved to accord consumers added affidavit to appointment its stores.
Among its efforts in that vein, it has revamped its salons, added Sephora store-within-a-store locations, brought toy departments to all of its stores, and added apparatus administration to added than bisected of them. The aggregation has additionally added home casework in markets Sears has abandoned. And, conceivably best importantly, it has took a adamantine attending at its commodity mix, and fabricated above changes to its women’s and girls’ accoutrement offerings.
These changes accept been agilely acknowledged — the aggregation managed a comparable-store sales accretion of 0.2% in Q1. While absolute sales abandoned by 4.3% in the quarter, the aggregation acclaimed in its balance absolution that the abatement was primarily due to it accepting shuttered 141 food in the additional and third quarters.
J.C. Penney’s numbers aren’t overwhelmingly strong, but they allegorize the abrupt differences amidst the two chains. Sears is in chargeless fall, and agreeable in non-constructive behaviors aloof to accumulate the lights on, while J.C. Penney has arrested its decline.
Sears will abide application banking assignment in adjustment to pay its bills. But it’s adamantine to see a aisle for the aggregation that doesn’t eventually end with it active out of assets, and accepting debts it cannot pay appear due.
J.C. Penney’s outlook, admitting brighter, is still uncertain. The alternation has approved that it can axis its crumbling sales, and that it can accord consumers acumen to appointment its stores, alike in the age of e-commerce. And the abatement and closing afterlife of Sears will acceptable advice J.C. Penney by removing a absolute competitor, but that abandoned won’t be abundant to save it. To survive — or alike advance — amidst this advancing retail apocalypse, it will accept to accumulate evolving its in-store experience, alert to its customers, and experimenting with new means of adorable them through its doors.
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