When former Apple retail boss Ron Johnson took his leave from Cupertino to become the new CEO of JC Penney late last year, there wasn’t as much “WTF-ing” as you might expect. Sure, there was some incredulity as Johnson left the gleaming stores he had founded for JC Penney’s chain of mouldering clothing outlets, but there was also a lot of optimism: if anyone could turn around a business like JC Penney, it would be Johnson.
Johnson may still succeed, but his first moves at rehabilitating JC Penney have been failures. The stock is tanking and JC Penney posted a $163 million loss last quarter alone. Customers, it seems, are not reacting well to the new JC Penney, which eschews sales, circulars, coupons and fine print for plain, honest pricing… the kind of store where all the .99s are dropped from the price tag.
Why? Honest pricing might work for Apple, but in most of the retail word, it appears to be a sucker’s game. Customers, it turns out, only say they want fair pricing. What the really want to do is treat shopping like a game.