PLANO, Texas (


) --

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

has joined its competitors today in announcing a full-year guidance boost. Brighter days are indeed ahead for department stores -- or least the department stores think so.

While J.C. Penney swung to a second-quarter loss as it still struggles to drive sales, management said it expects gross margin to improve in the second half of the year.

Nonetheless shares of J.C. Penney fell 2% in pre-market trading to $32.66.

During the quarter, the company reported a loss of $1 million, or a break-even per share, compared with a profit of $117 million, or 52 cents in the year-ago period. Analysts expected a loss of 1 cent a share.

J.C. Penney, along with most department stores, has been tightening inventory levels and cutting costs to help lift profit. It has also been focusing on private-label merchandise, which tends to be lower priced than name-brands and more appealing to shoppers.

In July, the company also opened its first store in Manhattan, in the near vicinity of the


(M) - Get Report

famed Herald Square location.

Revenue declined 8% during the quarter to $3.94 billion from $4.28 billion, while same-store sales sank 9.5%.

The company now expects full-year earnings in the range of 75 cents to 90 cents a share, up from a prior forecast of 50 cents to 65 cents.

J.C. Penney joins rivals like Macy's,


(KSS) - Get Report



(JWN) - Get Report

, which also raised their full-year outlooks, despite posting lower quarterly profits and sales.

Macy's reported a 90% plunge

in second-quarter earnings , while Kohl's

saw its profit slip 3%


-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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