JCPenney banks on tax-free weekend to woo lost shoppers

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 10 at 3:26 PM

FRISCO –– It was a welcome sight Friday as shoppers frantically searched for the best back-to-school deals in JCPenney at Stonebriar Centre Mall. 

“It’s really packed in here,” said Nicholas Siatka, who is looking for shoes for his son.

JCPenney is just one of many tax-free places this weekend but no place maybe banking on it more. While it may be tax-free on the sales floor it is everything but stress-free at the top for this retail giant.

It's largest shareholder, William Ackman, is demanding a new CEO as sales remain sluggish. An interim had to move in April after CEO Ron Johnson's experiments to help JCPenney seemingly failed.

Johnson, who started in late 2011, only lasted 17 months.

“I think a year ago we were changing things on a consistent basis so it was hard for customer to identify with us every month,” said Store Talent Leader Andrew Miller. 

Miller says it's back to branding and incentivizing. Crystal Favre and her daughter are back now that the coupons are back.

One change that may be paying dividends. 

“I am a really big couponer, I do it for like everything, so when i had my 25 percent off, it’s the only reason she talked me into this dress that I swear she's going to wear one tim,” said Favre.

When Ron Johnson started in 2012, first quarter revenues were $5.43 billion; compare that to his first quarter in 2013, also his last with the company, at $3.88 billion. 

“We're doing everything we can to get customers in the building and were starting to see it definitely today, you know, there is traffic in the store,” said Miller.

The question is, will the traffic stay beyond the weekend?

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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