J.C. Penney Increasing Women’s Apparel Offerings

J.C. Penney is attempting to revive its sales through focusing on increasing one category that most retailers are fleeing from: apparel.

On Friday, the retailer reported that sales at same stores of its apparel business had underperformed in its second quarter, in large part due to the tough environment for children’s clothing.

However, Penny’s has decided to forge ahead with the rolling out of a better and broader range of clothing, and specifically for women.

Marvin Ellison the CEO at Penney’s said during a call with Wall Street analysts that the company continues to improve and adjust strategically its apparel categories with putting an emphasis on correcting the women’s apparel lineup.

During the past, Penney’s had over-assorted its traditional women’s clothing while under-assorting its contemporary and casual women’s clothing, added Ellison.

Ellison said the first step in converting the women’s apparel business was to move toward a casual environment by increasing the company’s penetration into activewear.

Penney’s is hoping this will be accomplished by growing key relationships with its outside partners such as Adidas and Nike, while also increasing its own label Xersion.

Many say the move was a long time coming for the retailer. An industry analyst said that at Penney’s exists a stubborn and endemic weakness while at some other retailers such as Macy’s and Nordstrom, women’s remains an issue but they have already been addressing it.

However, at Penney’s management had not given that category the amount of boost it needed, said the analyst.

Though department store chains have diversified and now sell other large ticket items such as appliances and home furnishing, apparel is still a crucial part of the overall offering and helps to draw customers to its stores.

One Wall Street analyst believes that 75% of a department store must be women’s apparel and their accessories.

J.C. Penney for the most part is a fashion destination. However, fashion isn’t about fabric but about newness. Something new must be brought into the mix, said the industry analyst.

During the company’s second quarter, Penney’s shuttered 127 of its 138 scheduled store closing, something the retailer said has allowed it to bring in more contemporary and casual women’s apparel that is being launched during its current fall and back to school season.

The next step for J.C. Penney within its apparel sector, said company executives during their conference call, is offering female shoppers a line that is trend-right contemporary suitable for the busy lifestyle of today.