Ultimately, Penney's fate lies in once-loyal shoppers like Beth Williams, 39, who deserted the chain early last year.

Williams, a writer and mother of a 3-year-old from Plum, Pa., said she used to shop at Penney once a month for her family. But that changed when her local store got rid of coupons and sales events. She also doesn't like the new styles that she believes only target customers in their teens and 20s.

Williams says she would go back if Penney had more sales and brought back more traditional clothing like khaki shorts with forgiving fits.

"I would go back," she said. "I miss it. That was my go-to store for a long time, and then it changed."

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Anne D'Innocenzio can be reached at __http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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