Admitting defeat: JCPenney abandons ‘Fair and Square’

In past blogs, I’ve written about the advent and subsequent struggles of JCPenney’s Fair and Square pricing system. Through Quirk’s reader comments, JCPenney’s executive restructuring and, you know, general public outcry, it’s been no secret that Fair and Square wasn’t going over well with current customers, nor winning any new ones.

Now, after almost a year of trying to make Fair and Square happen and taking an over-25-percent hit in same-store sales, it seems JCPenney is abandoning ship altogether. According to Jeff Macke’s January 29 article, “Sales Are Back: JCPenney Continues to Confound,” the retailer is reintroducing many of the promotions it discontinued in 2012 and launching new price tags that will include information on what competing retailers charge for the same merchandise.

On the one hand, I feel a little sorry for JCPenney. In theory, I think Fair and Square pricing makes sense. Instead of making us all hunt around for bargains and promotions and using oodles of coupons lest we end up feeling we’re being taken for a ride, just give us the bottom-dollar price upfront. Enough with the “fake” prices. Target, Walmart, JCPenney, Macy’s: I know this down-alternative pillow isn’t really worth $60 and I’d be willing to bet it hasn’t been sold at $60 since it first entered the store so why keep the inflated MSRP on the tag? There’s no way I’d pay more than $40 – you and I both know this!

On the other hand, it’s undeniably satisfying when I look at the bottom of the receipt and see that at the end of a particularly good shopping trip I “saved” more than I spent. (Even though it’s not actual savings since the original price on the tag is, well, fake.) It’s simply going to take more than a year and more than one retailer’s efforts to change the way I – and most likely the rest of America – think about promotions, pricing and what constitutes a good deal.

JCPenney customers have spoken. With their wallets. And JCPenney is now forced to listen. The real question is, can it bounce back after its travails over the past few years?

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One Response to Admitting defeat: JCPenney abandons ‘Fair and Square’

  1. Mary Aviles says:

    I’ve been following JCP’s activity as well and I think, as you pointed out: (It’s simply going to take more than a year and more than one retailer’s efforts to change the way I – and most likely the rest of America – think about promotions, pricing and what constitutes a good deal.) time and commitment to a course of action is critical. I’m not sure they gave Fair and Square enough of either.