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A less-than-merry holiday for department store retailers — including Penney


Poor holiday sales results from Macy’s, Sears, and Kohl’s do not bode well for the already embattled department store sector. And now J.C. Penney has reported its own disappointing results.

The retailer said its same-store sales, which include e-commerce and physical sales, fell 0.8% in November and December, weighed down by weakness in apparel. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison stressed that the company’s turnaround in profitability remains on track, and that it expects to deliver its fourth consecutive quarter of positive operating profit (on Feb. 24).

Ellison cited a slow start to the holiday season, and called the first three weeks of November “challenging in the stores, consistent with the trends in the broader retail industry.” But he said the business improved and overall comp sales for the six-week period from Thanksgiving week through the end of December were positive.

“During the holiday season we saw strength in appliances, outerwear, boots, toys, Sephora and fine jewelry,” Ellison said. “However, weakness in women's apparel continued to impact our performance. We are also encouraged by a very strong performance in our e-commerce business, evidenced by double-digit growth.”

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