Derek Thompson at The Atlantic asks, “Who killed JCPenney?”:
That’s how Henry Blodget described JC Penney’s last three months of 2012, as same-store sales took an epic 32 percent nosedive. To be clear about exactly what a disaster that is, it means that for every $100 dollars JC Penney sold in a store around Christmas 2011, it sold only $68 in that store in Christmas 2012. That doesn’t look like the beginning of the end for JC Penney. That just looks like the end.
Thompson talks about the economic trends that spelled doom for JCP. I don’t know about economics, but I do know that it’s strange, in an emotional sense, for me to see so many of the iconic retailers from my childhood fall by the wayside. I couldn’t tell you the last time I shopped at Penney’s. Probably when my mom took me there as a kid. Sears was the big retail presence in our family’s life in the 1970s. I went to a Sears store for the first time in decades last fall, looking for a kid’s coat, and I was shocked by how depressing and low-rent everything looked. This is not a store that has life in it, I thought.
Montgomery Ward used to be a big part of my childhood too. It died a while back.
I don’t have anything philosophical or insightful to say about these places. They died in part because people like me quit shopping there, for whatever reason. Still, I get a little sentimental when I see news that JCPenney is in serious trouble. It’s like hearing that your childhood Sunday school teacher or your Little League coach, someone you haven’t seen in 30 years, but who once meant a lot to you, is in hospice care.