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On My Radar...February 28, 2019: The Future of Department Stores

Updated: Mar 26, 2019



J.C. Penney stores are closing. What does this say about the future of department stores?


When I was little, my grandma would often drive me out to J.C. Penney and take me through all the messy sale racks so we could try to find something inexpensive for me to wear when the school year started again. Now, Penney seems to be going the way of Sears.


Apparently, their over-stuffed stores and lackluster website were making it difficult to convert customers both in person and online. Their holiday season profits were pretty dismal.


CNBC says J.C. Penny also has trouble handling merchandise. As much as I hate to admit it, this has a lot to do with the MBA class I just finished. It was one of the worst-structured classes I’ve ever taken, but hey, I understand why building up merchandise is a problem and how using enterprise resource systems better can fix it. Executives at Macy’s and Kohl’s must have also worked through a class like this one, because they made changes to the way they organize their merchandise and are in a much better place than Penney at the start of 2019.


The shifting landscape of big department stores says less about the department store model and more about the difficulties big companies face when adapting to new technology. I don’t care what anyone says about the future, I still think that department stores that create both a fabulous in-person experience and handle their online stores well will exist for years to come. Yeah, shopping on Amazon is great and all, but it can’t beat the sounds, smells, and beautiful displays that make a good department store.


Read more about J.C. Penney’s store closings here.



On My Radar... posts let you explore the media that’s on my mind. I post fashion Radar posts on Tuesdays and finance Radar posts on Thursdays.

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