Fake J.C. Penney Prices Are No More, Store Says

    January 25, 2013
    Amanda Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

It’s a rather sneaky way of doing business, but getting into the heads of customers and making them think they’ve gotten a better deal than they actually have is something retailers have been doing for decades. Rather than putting a fixed price on an item, they’ll put an original price–often jacked up to twice what they’re really selling it for–as well as a sale price. Finding a cute top for $40 is much more of a steal when you find it marked down to $15 or $20, right?

That’s what retailers are hoping you’ll think, and the practice is called “anchoring”, meaning your perception of the item’s value is set right away. Seeing it marked down to half or less than half off means you’re more likely to buy it, even if you might not need it, and in today’s economic downturn, that’s the last thing shoppers want to do.

Stores are catching on to what their customers want, however, and J.C. Penney is one of them. Part of a new overhaul for their entire system includes pricing items at what they actually are–“Everyday Prices”–which will not be reduced in weekly sales. Instead, the store will conduct month-long sales on certain items, and clearance sales will be on the first and third Friday of every month. Every item will have a new simplified tag to keep customers from getting confused, and that includes setting prices at a flat number instead of ending in .99.

J.C. Penney saw a sharp decline in sales over the past several months compared to their competitors, and Ron Johnson, C.E.O., admits he knows why.

“Our stores are tired; they haven’t been updated,” he said. “So customers ignored us 99 percent of the time. At some point, you, as a brand, look desperate if you have to market that much.”

  • rona

    get with it time to pay attention. things HAVE changed. i LOVE JCP’s new way. time everyone else gets on board.

  • Belon

    I LOOOOVE JC Pennys!! Im never dissatisfied and always find a GREAT deal everytime I shop there.

  • http://yahoo laura

    is Khols doing the same thing?

    • me

      Yes, Kohls does the same thing. That’s how they can offer something for 50% off.

    • Cat

      yes, and Sears, and Walmart, and Meijer, and every other store.

  • JW

    You guys are idiots. they’ve been doing this for two years, lost value, lost quality, lost product and now just suck

  • M

    Many consumers are over the .99 cent thing. I go right to the next number in my head. Not 3.99 just 4 dollars. Gas is the worst with its fraction of a penny. Dishonest. Thanks JCP for being a little more honest.

  • http://Yahoo! Rita

    This is nothing new, tell this the younger people .It call retail, sale, and that how they do it. Love JCPenney!

    • Carmen

      I agree with Rita, nothing new…It call retail, sale, and that how they do it. I have been a JC Penny’s customer for over 20 years. I love shopping at JCPenny….as long they the store open I will continue shopping at JCP….

  • Faith Bartlett

    Without real clearance low-low prices. I find no reason to go there, only pass thru cause they’re nearest the parking lot at the Mall.

  • Rhonda

    Haven’t found anything at all that I like at JCP since the big change a year ago or so. The selection before kept me coming back—-this line of clothing keeps me away!!!

  • PA

    I always shop JCP because they had quality clothes, but lately it has been not so good. The selection isn’t as good as it was a year ago and now they are dealing with the younger group and not people that are older. I used to get everything at JCP, but now I just don’t shop anymore. Penneys needs to have clothes that deal with all ages, not just the young. The young generally goes to Kohl, I don’t like Kohl. They have sub quality clothes.

  • Cat

    Heck why are they singling out JCP? Look at Sears, Kohl’s, any store , they all do it. All their tags have the original price on them , then the store price , then the sale price, then the clearance price. So what’s new?
    People should be looking at quality, not name, or original cost…. pay attention people !!!!!!

  • Pete Wright

    I discontinued shopping at J.C. Penny’s when they found it necessary to employ “Ellen Degeneres (?). Enough said//

    • NYGramma

      Enough said? You didn’t say anything. What does Ellen have to do with it? Oh, wait. You’re one of those close-minded homophobes. I get it.

  • http://webpronews steve shrewsbury

    How long will it take to get rid of the man trying to “TWEEK”J.C.Penny.Thats right I called the company by its name.Not JCP .Who told you it was a good idea to change the name.Are you a moron or what.Lets change your name to RJ.Here is an idea,fire all management and replace them with cheaper younger less qualified workers to save costs.Oh wait we already did that ,it dont work just go back to my plan and fire RJ.

  • Jenny

    Their CEO is wrong. People haven’t stopped shopping there because the stores are outdated. They stopped shopping because Penney’s forgot who their consumer was — namely ones who, like myself, likes coupons and deals!

  • G

    I am a vendor that works with several department stores. ALL department stores use this practice. Macy’s calls it Everday Value – anything ending in a 98, and coupons cannot be used on these items. Which are generally the best selling items. Kohl’s items are on sale all the time, some maybe be at a higher percentage off but nothing is sold at a “regular price” anymore. JCP just cut out the the hassle of customers wondering if the item they are buying at that moment will be sold at a lower percentage later in the week.

    Our items we sell after every stores “Everday Value”, “Lowest Price” or weekly percentage off is the same price out the door. The only difference is if a store issues a coupon then it would bring it to the lowest price.

    • Dianne

      The main difference between the Macy’s EDV’s and the merchandise at JCP lately is the quality. I would actually rather pay a little more to get a nicer, more durable article of clothing from Macy’s (or one of the better lines at Kohl’s) than to get a few things at JCP that will fall apart after 1 washing (i.e. the Worthington sweater that I got that pills and sheds lint worse than my dog sheds hair). The only reason I even go to JCP anymore is for the styling salon but even my regular sylist cut his hours so that he didn’t have to work too many Sundays. Free Kid’s haircuts every Sunday= many kids who haven’s had haircuts in a while and little to no tips for the stylists.

  • frankennedy

    I miss the old Penneys.I used to shop there exclusively for clothes, household, etc. The quality of the clothing has dropped to a level of Wal Mart.
    I don’t even go there anymore.

  • Carolyn

    I used to shop JC Penney’s. The last time I walked thru the store I did not like the new layout and could not find any clothes for myself or my grandson that is 9. The selection of clothes is not there anymore. I don’t even think about JC Penney’s when I am going shopping for clothes now.

  • http://Yahoo Wendy

    I think the quality of some of their merchandise has gone way down. For instance, the Home Collection is of cheap quality. I purchased towels and they fell apart, sheets do not last like they use too. Perhaps it is because they are manufactured in other countries. Do they carry anything that is made in the USA? I can get quality items at other stores. Also, their advertisments are geared to the young hip crowd. I throw them away.

  • http://N/A Gary M Franklin Sr

    I am a J.C. Penny customer thar shops there on ocassion and just to see if they have finally brought back products they sold for 30 years. Now most of their merchandise is junk. They sold Wranglers mens casual western jeans for years now all they have is FADED DENIUM JEANS that I throw away and wud not be caught DEAD IN THEM. Everything is from China…….

  • http://N/A Gary M Franklin Sr

    I am a J.C. Penny customer thar shops there on ocassion and just to see if they have finally brought back products they sold for 30 years. Now most of their merchandise is junk. They sold Wranglers mens casual western jeans for years now all they have is FADED DENIUM JEANS that I throw away and would not be caught DEAD IN THEM. Everything is from China…….

  • Rosie Zell

    I still like JCP for the value & quality of their clothing & bedding (sheets,comforters,towels) Oh and love their curtains! I do miss the ST. Johns Bay clothing line tho…..they don’t carry it anymore:(

  • Scott

    I also don’t like people in other countries having industrial jobs. Who do those non-Americans think they are, trying to earn a living like we do?

  • Lena

    I USED TO LOVE JC PENNEY. As others have mentioned the quality of their clothing and other merchandise has gone down. I don’t like sweaters that are so thin you can see through them. It is a shame that they have done this to themselves and then they blame it on the store ‘looking tired’….really! You can remodel the store but if the products are of poor quality you will lose the shopper. I don’t shop for clothes anymore at JC Penney…and I used to go there ALL THE TIME! It was my store of choice. Sad sad sad too bad bad bad for JC PENNY.

  • Johnny

    Get it straight, people. It’s not “JC Penny” or “Penney’s” or “Penny’s.” There’s no apostrophe in the name, and there’s no “S” at all. It’s simply JC Penney.

  • Laura

    I stopped shopping there (and target and Kmart….) when I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t made overseas. They want my money but have no interest in the local economy beyond their own retail profits.

    • Cosmo Spacely

      @ laura, may I ask where you are shopping please? Have you located a retailer where we may obtain USA made products at a reasonable price?

    • Lauren

      Even though the clothes are ‘made’ overseas, many of the time the cloths are designed here in the US. My sister is one of those designers that makes ‘store brand clothes’ and yes sends them overseas to be made, otherwise that $5.99 t shirt you want would be closer to $50. So even though they are made overseas there are still American jobs that spend time ‘making’ your clothes.

  • Cosmo Spacely

    Good article! I did not know the practice is referred to as anchoring. Hunter S. Thompson and Mexican food; this Amanda Crum is my people!! Thank you

  • Bonnie

    I like the old JC Penney before all the changes, I like the coupons. I also say fire the CEO who though it needed changed, he is the problem with JCP.

  • marie b

    I find it interesting that no one in any comment, has mentioned the service level at JC Penney. I work in retail stores, and have come to know JC Penney associates as some of the most friendly, and customer focused out of any department store. Also, wake up people, if you buy cheap items, you get cheap quality. JC penney offers items at many pricing levels and quality levels.

    • Cosmo Spacely

      @ marie; the reason behind that is most people enjoy kicking a dog, person, or business when they perceive they are down. Kind of a “gang mentality” working against JCP at this time. Also please understand and factor in shrewd business tactics of doing and saying anything to drive the stock down because many are taking a short position and stand to profit only if the stock price falls. We should understand and not hate both groups above, because regardless of which group they belong to, they have no choice in their behavior. We all heard Johnson say the JCP remake will be a 3 year process, not without some pain, but most of us choose to ignore that. I choose to play long and profit from the remake because I can. Not everyone is in a financial position to do that and I understand.

      • badboycancer

        @Cosmo: Since the changes it ever increasingly to find a bargain period. I don’t know about all departments, but the big & tall portion completely sucks! They are always out of stock online, prices have jumped and they are replacing alot of brands with the cheap, chinese made JCP brand junk. This is just pure fact. Not beating a dead horse. The new CEO needs to go.

        • Cosmo Spacely

          @ badboy; Agree with you…I’m hopeful JCP will bring in something special for Big & Tall soon in it’s store-within-a-store concept. It’s a vastly profitable market and let’s face it all retailers B & T offerings are basically what fits you & never what you actually want. Ron Johnson are you listening???

  • juju

    I haven’t shopped at JCPenney since they made the changes. Even if it wasn’t really a bargain, I enjoyed thinking it was.

  • D

    I work at JC Penney and what they’ve done regarding the prices is instead of “jacking up” the prices only to “lower” them for a “$10 off of a $25 purchase” (which forced out to buy more than you may have wanted) or a “sale” that was only good for 3 days, is to set a great price that is the same EVERY DAY. You don’t have to think about “Is this on sale today?” or “Oh no, my coupon’s expired. Now I have to wait for another one!” The customer now has the FREEDOM to shop on THEIR schedule and not around sale dates or coupn dates and they know what the price will be every day. Some specific changes is that bras used to be $34 and now are $25 or less and Worthington tops went from $20-$25 down to $12-$16 – every day! Change is challenging – please come in and give us a look!

    • M

      I agree completely!

  • M. Ward

    Personally, I find it easier to shop when I don’t have to check a bunch of coupon expiration dates or carry them around in my purse. Stores that do the coupon thing have a higher initial price to allow for the coupon reduction, and people have become conditioned to that. Penney’s everyday prices are even better than other department stores everyday prices, and I often buy clothes reduced to 5-10 dollars per item. I think people ought to keep an open mind, break the coupon work habit, and give it a try.

  • Karmen

    I work at JCPenney, and I think the changes are really detrimental to the company. The executives thought it a great idea to ditch coupons, sales, and most advertising. The problem with that philosophy is that there is nothing to drive sales or traffic. If you have coupons/sales, people come inside just because…not because they *need* something. If you are waiting on the customer who comes in when they need something, you’re killing business. Most people don’t just come into a store to see if anything is new.

    This is why, if you look at sales, sales in the men’s dept are pretty steady…but sales in the womens department are plummeting…50% of what they were a year ago in some stores!!! Women are driven to buy by bargains (perceived or not).

    It pains me to see this company hemhorraging money the way it is. Such a great company built on great foundations and morals…and it is going in the crapper. When I’m putting $1 stickers on garments that were originally priced at $40…something isn’t right.

    • Beverly

      I used to work at JCP 20 years ago. It must have been the best time to work there because employees (associates) were treated well. Part of them were on commission, but I worked in Beth/Bedding and was not. The salary was terrible ($4.60 an hour to start) but I had medical insurance from them. We actually waited on people. I think you had to in our area because customers wanted help with finding shower curtains and accessories or comforters. I loved it. I quit after five years because a riverboat casino opened up locally and I didn’t have to drive 35 miles anymore. Sales were then used widely and they worked. I remember we had 10% off the day before Thanksgiving, and people flocked in. Sales did work. Yes, regular prices were too high, but the sales helped a lot. Then the employees always waited for 25% off clearance prices and that was the best. Some hoarded them in the stockrooms, then that was outlawed. I think Penney’s has made a mistake with making the large stores very small, smaller in some cases than Kohls. One store (40 miles away) has still maintained its two stories in a mall, but their supply has gone way down. It looks as if the merchandise has been cut in half (probably to save money). The ANA brand is really cheap. Don’t get it.

  • olivia

    You know not only JCPenney does this but so does Kohls I mean seriously who do they think they are kidding with some of those prices 45.00 for a pajama set for boys Really !! and then they “lower” it down 50% yeah right. Don’t get me wrong they do have a lot of stuff on the sale racks but even then its a lil pricey Just Saying . Anywho just my Opinion

  • James Beyer

    I like knowing that the price I’m paying is the price it will be a week from now. In some of these retailers, (like Kohl’s), getting their lowest price is like dodging traffic. If they have to count on a percentage of people to pay a higher price in order to maintain their margin, maybe their margin is too high to begin with.

    • Fran

      Unless you’re talking about the stock market the only price that counts is the price you pay NOW.

  • j

    Grocery stores do this all the time, especially with soda (Cokes)

  • christinechoukalas

    I miss the coupons .

  • Debbie

    Yeah, others do it but its Penneys getting busted for it. Is this the last “Nail”?

    • Indiayque

      I think you missed the point of the article. JCPenney did not get “busted” for it. JC Penney changed their pricing so they no longer jack up the price to make appear like customers are getting a deal when they slash the price with coupons and sales.

  • http://yahoo smartshopper

    I know JCP has been doing this since they started their new way of business. I emailed them and told them a week after they started what a rip off they were. Kohls on the other hand, has the regular prices, and everything is almost always on sale, then if you have a charge card from Kohls, you can get stuff for 30 percent off if you have that coupon, (most of the time you can order online and find the code in one of the coupon sites), plus a free shipping code. You can get a pair of Levis for about 30 bucks..no where else. Plus if you buy 50, they give you Kohls cash. Pretty good deal.

    • Janet

      Agree!! I sent off an e-mail when this change in advertising was first announced!!!! I told them this would not work. Hurt them when they tried to set social tones also!!! Sounds like the CEO still doesn’t get it. Sadly, all he need do is ask the employees and they could tell him how to bring JC Penny customers back!!!! But they never do!!! Too bad, a lot of employees will lose their jobs and another american institution will close!!!!! I worked retail for nearly 35 yrs. Most of the decisions that come from corporate are so far out!!! And, no, I never worked at JCP!!!!!

    • pixierose

      Levis’ prices are set by Levis! The cost the same everywhere. The Kohls “coupons” are a scam to get you in the mess of a store. The prices never ring up what the signs say either.

  • Fran

    I don’t understand… were the actual prices “fake”? That’s what counts. If it says it is selling for $20 and you GET it for $20 who cares what it USED to cost? Maybe I’m the only one who only looks at the actual selling price and ignores the other hype.

  • Elliott

    This is a very old trick. A local store would re-price their items on sale day higher than normal on a non sale day then give you a discount. Even with the discount you would pay more than regular. Just because you see “SALE” or such, BUYER BEWARE. Know you prices before shopping.

    I used to own a store and sales reps would ask me if I wanted items pre-priced. I could have the item marked whatever I wanted then I could “offer” it with a discount.

  • Hannah

    I like the way JCP is now.
    I can’t stand when you go into a store like Kohls and it says 60% off and when you look at the price it’s like 79.50 for a shirt.
    Way to go JCP for not making us do math anymore!
    Either way the clothing quality is crap at any big retailer… So why not go to JCP where they have an actual price, not some made up BS to make you think you’re getting a great deal.

    • sally

      The need to check their prices, especially on their shoes. I have found similar items elsewhere for up to $20.00 less.

  • Judith Knowles

    Thats why we quit going to Penneys. No more good deals on coupons.

    • Ella

      So you can keep getting lied to? Coupons are marketing techniques that make you think that you are saving more.

  • Indiayque

    So JC Penney no longer practices “anchoring”. The prices are lowered but I like to get “deals” so I guess I have to make it a practice to shop on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. I don’t like that they got rid of one of my favorite brands, St. John’s Bay. It was my casual go to brand. So disappointed. The new JCP brand does not provide the same type of clothes. But I still prefer to shop at this store.

  • T Miller

    75% of the nation wear sizes 16 and above. Go to Penny’s and try to find styles in those sizes. Not everybody is a model.

    • synisterkat

      Stores should not be allowed to sell anything over a size 16. Good grief. Sizes 8 – 16 are not what models wear, they are what healthy adults wear.

  • irishcopdan

    sears does the same thing. i’ve gone into sears to the llbean section with the llbean cataloge in my hand. the posted sears prices were about 30% higher than those listed in the cataloge. there were “sale” signs on the merchandise advertising 25% off. i no longer go the sears.

  • Audrey

    I love Penney’s….loved their coupons but also I think their new way of pricing is a good idea. I am finding lots lower prices. Prices that I feel are fair. I don’t like being told something is worth more than it is and marked down to think I am getting a really good deal. Women have been onto this for years….we are smart enough to know what they are doing?? I like Kohl’s too but have to b e careful with their pricing….but they do offer good sales!!!

  • Mimi

    I like Penny’s but I did catch on to their “sales pricing” a while ago. I thought it was sneaky so I stopped shopping there. Maybe I’ll give them another try! They seem to have decent prices. Kohls pricing is even worse! There is NEVER a “real price” on anything so it’s hard to shop when you’re on a budget. YOu can’t add items up in your head while you’re shopping…..you have to wait to see what the cash register says. It’s frustrating. Also, they seem overpriced anyway. :)

  • Jackie

    I worked for JCP up until I was “LET GO” thanks to the new CEO and all the changes he’s made! Before They started the changes before I was LET GO and all of us could see NO GOOD TO COME OF IT! Only good thing was the store looked better. Lowering the racks, etc….What saddens me is all I see is how the customer is unhappy, but what about all of us that lost our jobs?
    When I was hired I couldn’t have been happier. It was great working there, actually looked forward to going to work, UNTIL…….
    I loved working with the people there and dealing with customers, but even when the customers started complaining it wasn’t fun anymore!

  • Stephen

    Yahoo listed JC Penney as one of many businesses that will most likely close their doors forever in 2013. I don’t usually put any stock in Yahoo predictions but I think they may have this one correct.
    JC Penney’s current management must have cheated on their exams in basic business courses in college for they appear totally without a clue. They will probably gather large bonuses for their stupidity and allow the company to go under by fall of this year.

  • itsme


  • Katie

    I always tought JC Penney biggest sale of the year was stupid because it was an ongoing thing. You knew Regular prices were higher just so they can run a sale every other day. I rather pay a low price every day without the hassle of waiting for a sale or coupon and if I want a bargain then check clearance on the discounted fridays or the items of the month sale. I think its simple concept that makes sense, but I must be stupid since people rather fall for the “biggest sale of the year”.

  • Florene Smith

    Finally a store has discovered that consumers are not really stupid! We have waited for years fo someone to recognize our intelligence. The mark up to mark down and the 98 and 99 cent price endings are so tired. We have been aware for years that we were being “played” by the mariketers, and not just by J. C. Pennys but by all of the retail srores.

    • John

      There have been stores out there like this. They are Walmart, Target, and Dollar General.

      You have no idea what the retail price was or what the company paid for the item.

      There is a mathematic way to determine original price.

      People shop department stores looking for deals with their reward cards and coupons.

      Not because they can purchase the same product any time at any price. That takes the fun out of the game.

      Look at real department stores. There are not many around most are following walmart and kmart and then wonder why they are not making walmart and kmart sales.

      Many department stores have “Every Day Value” items. the price is the same all season long. suppose to be the lowest price possible. Most of these racks have just as many items on it at the beginning of the season then at the end.

      JCP needs to go back to their roots.

  • Brandon

    I work in retail..bigger ticket items…when you switch to everyday low pricing, people still want to get it on sale and will beat ya up over it, they don’t understand the concept, so this will be destined to fail as well.

    • John

      I agree with you.

      JCP has tried this before and their last CEO lost his job over the shortage of sales. The difference in the discount store shopper and the department store shopper are many things. One of which is their sales. I do not even look at Walmart or Target clearance in any department. I don’t know what the MFR is and I only see a difference in a few dollars in price. If I didn’t want it last week why do I want it this week for $3 less.

      Everyone not only enjoys a sale but also the coupon. Coupons and reward cards are why people shop department stores. Not to go in today and get the same price you could had gotten last week or the next two weeks.

  • Reality

    So Ron’s approach is to just take the entire body of research concerning consumer behavior that’s been established and well documented and.. completely ignore it.
    Did anyone tell him that discount retail is not the same as Apple? When you’ve successfully marketed a product with snob appeal to masses that salivate at every update regardless of price, you’re in a different ball game than a price sensitive consumer.

  • http://whatisvaping.com Electronic Cigarettes

    Just more deceptive advertising techniques… Of course it works!

  • Kiss JCP goodbye

    “The store will conduct month-long sales on certain items”? So these items were not jacked up, then lower for a 30 day sale? Really? Some fair and square pricing.

    Come on people Ron thinks you are an idiot, confused by 0.99 cent vs $1.00?

    With Ron’s plan, he gets to jack up his prices, move about the store discounting a little merchandize for a month, then back up in price, so basically it was over priced to being with.. Once he has done this for the whole store he can start the cycle over. With coupons the discount was across all or huge parts of the store, you didn’t have to keep running out burning gas to visit JCP, my life doesn’t revolve around JCP.

    Amazing if anyone thinks this is better than coupons, it is worst, getting rid of in house brands that carried the store isn’t a good idea either. It seems Ron bagged a lot, oh you will hear they are still around under the generic JCP label, half truth, what stuff is under that label is cheaper looking over the old and Ron is rumored to be firing those people responsible for designing and creating the old brands at his Valentine Massacre coming with another firing at home office.

    So, you tell people their favorite in house brands have just be collapsed under one label, JCP, then you ax a huge percent of that brand. This is clever. Shame no one is buying it.

    JCP isn’t no bargin, check Target which carries some of Ron’s upscale designer stuff, girls dress for $99, clutch bag $79. Target dropped the price of that fad, ugly as it gets junk to $49 on the dress to try to move it. They didn’t sell much. Yeah, Ron is just putting in the same crap as Target. If you have to buy this stuff buy it from Target, that Other Price seems to be the highest he can find.

    Think hard about it, 99 cent vs dollar? Come on. Needlessly pissing on buyers via of sticking a JCP label on in-house? Why? 30 day Easter egg store hunt? No, sorry Ron, no amount of lipstick, or lip service is going to improve this pig.