Plano, TX—Since the end of ousted CEO Ron Johnson’s tenure earlier this year, JCPenney has been trying to turn around mistakes and wrong directions. Today, the beleaguered department store announced a reverse on another apparently ill-conceived idea: instead of waiting to 6 a.m. Black Friday morning to open its stores, JCPenney will join rival Macy’s and open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
“Last year, we opened much later than the competition and our stores saw a lot of frustrated customers tap our doors wanting to shop. This year, we decided we weren’t going to let those opportunities pass us by,” said JCPenney spokesperson Daphne Avila.
Holiday: A Make or Break Season for JCP?
Indeed, breaking with tradition, last year retailers such as Walmart, Target, Sears, Lord & Taylor and others began their Black Friday promotions early, encroaching on what previously had been a tradition to remain close and observe the national holiday.
But fewer days between Black Friday and Christmas, as well as concerns about consumers pulling back on their discretionary spending, has caused retailers to reconsider the time-honored Thanksgiving traditions. The fact that there are looming concerns that the gridlock in Washington has further hindered consumers’ plans to spend, retailers are stepping up their promotional game.
“You’re seeing retailers push the shopping hours to create more days, in a sense,” said Dave Cheatham, managing principal of Velocity Retail Group. Add Jim Bieri, principal at Stokas Bieri Real Estate, “You see more and more companies trying to get customers in before Thanksgiving, when they still have money in their pockets.”
For JCPenney, its holiday and fourth quarter sales are crucial given its need to turn around business in the post-Johnson era.
JCPenney is expected to post a loss of $1.73 a share in its next earnings report—about three times as large as analysts estimated threee months ago and about double the loss of the same period a year ago.
The retailer also said it is hiring some 35,000 season workers for holiday—about a 50% increase over 2012.