Retail earnings: The best of times, the worst of times

This is a big earnings period for retailers. As the reports roll in, it's increasingly clear that it's both the best of times and the worst of times for retail. While performance overall is, on average, much better than a year ago, what continues to come into sharper relief are three inescapable conclusions. First, as I have been … Continue reading Retail earnings: The best of times, the worst of times

JC Penney goes back to the future, but it’s likely too little, too late

At one level, the announcement that JC Penney was going to stop wooing younger customers in favor of focusing on baby boomer moms seems to make a lot of sense. During the devastating Ron Johnson era, Penney's was practically driven out of business by trying to execute what I call the customer trapeze way too quickly while simultaneously … Continue reading JC Penney goes back to the future, but it’s likely too little, too late

It’s just about time for full-on panic at J.C. Penney

It's been a long sad slog for J.C. Penney. In 2011, after more than a decade of (at best) mediocre performance, the company brought in Ron Johnson from Apple as its new CEO. In what some saw as a bold attempt at transformation — and others saw as a misguided Hail Mary pass — retail's latest savior changed just about everything … Continue reading It’s just about time for full-on panic at J.C. Penney

Is this the beginning of a department store renaissance? Eh, not so much.

Nearly two weeks ago Macy's beat quarterly sales and earnings expectations and many on Wall Street promptly lost their mind. Same story with Dillard's. Then Kohl’s followed up with a similarly surprising upside report that led some to conclude that maybe, just maybe, the long-beleaguered department store sector might be seeing a resurgence or—dare we say it out loud?—the beginning of … Continue reading Is this the beginning of a department store renaissance? Eh, not so much.

Better is not the same as good for department stores stuck in the middle

As most U.S. department stores reported earnings recently, a certain level of ebullience took hold. Macy's, Kohl's and even Dillard's, for crying out loud, beat Wall Street expectations, sending their respective shares higher. J.C. Penney, which has failed to gain any real traction despite Sears' flagging fortunes, continued to disappoint, suggesting that I probably need to revisit my somewhat hopeful … Continue reading Better is not the same as good for department stores stuck in the middle