So much for trying to serve suburban America while one of your largest rivals virtually disappears from the outskirts of town.
J.C. Penney (JCP) CEO Marvin Ellison said at a real estate conference Wednesday the company would move to close more stores -- after shuttering seven last year -- following a lackluster holiday season. "We have certain locations that we readily admit we have to downsize," Ellison said, adding, "There are some smaller market locations where we have to decide, does the mall or our store meet our brand standards?"
What could be a more aggressive store closure campaign by Ellison would mark a major shift in strategy. Up until now, J.C. Penney and long-time rival Macy's (M) have had two strikingly different philosophies on how many brick-and-mortar stores should be open in the age of digital shopping.
Don't Let this Chart Ruin Your Day
Unfortunately, not much in the way of uplifting news to report on Thursday. Ahead of government retail sales data on Friday, take a gander at this depressing chart by economists at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Although there was a good deal of optimism among restaurant CEOs at this week's ICR Conference, the industry still seems to be stuck in the same recession that weighed on results of major chains last year. Reasons for continued weak spending on dining out are plentiful, ranging from deflation in supermarket food prices, to robust price increases by restaurants to offset minimum wages, to a pickup in the jobs market that have people pressed for time.
If you've been putting money to work in McDonald's (MCD) and other big-name restaurants ahead of fourth-quarter earnings, now may be the time to reassess.