Discount shoppers rejoice! Penney’s in sales surrender

Amy Scott Jan 30, 2013
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Discount shoppers rejoice! Penney’s in sales surrender

Amy Scott Jan 30, 2013
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY

I found Bonnie Fisher browsing the clearance racks at a J. C. Penney near Baltimore, Md. She remembers when Penney rolled back most of its sales a year ago.

“I used to get lots of coupons all the time,” she says. “I was all excited to come in the store with my coupons, and since I haven’t been getting them I haven’t been here in a long time.”

Penney says it isn’t bringing back coupons. But as of this week, it will revive some of the hundreds of sales it killed off last year. The company tried to break the cycle of marking prices up only to keep knocking them down. Instead, it promised low prices every day. Shoppers stayed home.

Penney was right to try, says Paco Underhill, CEO of consumer behavior research firm Envirosell. “Sales are a little like heroin, meaning that the more you use it, the less effective it becomes.”

But once you train your customers to expect sales, it’s hard to retrain them. And the J.C. Penney shopper was well-trained, says Candace Corlett with WSL Strategic Retail.

“Part of the pleasure she gets out of J.C. Penney is the reward of great deals,” Corlett says.

Shopper Bonnie Fisher picked up several shirts for $2 a piece. “It’s not because the shirts were $2,” she says. “They could’ve been $10, but if they had a big sale sign and they used to be $50 you just feel like you’re getting a deal.”

Penney will try another tactic to give shoppers the impression of savings. Starting today, it’ll post the manufacturer’s suggested price next to Penney’s price on more tags so customers can get that bargain feeling.


So, now it’s your turn. Are you a bargain hunter? Are you allergic to full price? Tell us your thoughts about sales in stores — how much of a discount makes you seriously consider buying?



If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air.  But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.

We’re here for you.

As COVID-19 reshapes our economy, our newsletter will help you unpack the news from the day.