I’ve been hearing a lot of news about JCPenney’s new pricing structure. Combine that with the feeling of “I have to get out of this house for awhile!” and Saturday afternoon found me and my four-year-old checking out JCPenney and their new “fair and square” pricing.
The new program essentially does away with what you’re used to as far as JCPenney sales: no more weekend-only discounts of 50% off, so frequent that you have trained yourself to never buy anything at full-price at JCP because you know it will be 40-60% off if you just wait a week or two.
They claim to have cut prices by at least 40% (more on that below), and will now have everyday prices, month-long values, and “best prices”. Here’s what I discovered upon checking out the new pricing structure in the store:
First, a brief explanation of the three new types of prices and how you can identify them:
This is the shelf/no discount/full price; the price that is supposed to be at least 40% less than what it was previously. You can identify it by the color – it’s red if it’s an everyday price.
Month-long values are the equivalent of the new sale price. The item is marked down and that price will last a month – the calendar month, in my understanding. These tags and signs are purple-ish. (I just realized that this system is totally not cool if you’re color-blind.)
This is the new clearance – anything marked as “best price” is supposed to be as low as it’s going to go. Best Price is indicated with a dark blue tag and sign.
:: Observations About The New System ::
Overall, I think the new system is easy to understand and will probably be more convenient to use. It may take you a few minutes of browsing the store to get familiar with what tags mean what, but it was pretty easy for me after just a few minutes of looking around. There are just three tags and three meanings, so it’s simple.
✓ Everyday prices really are significantly lower – on most things
JCP claims to have slashed their regular prices on everything in the store by 40% or more. From what I observed, that did seem to be true, though I haven’t been into JCP since Christmas and none of the items I remember the prices on from two months ago were still available.
It seemed like a lot of their everyday prices were very close to what I would typically pay on sale. For instance, the above men’s Stafford dress shirts were $15, a price that would have been about 50% off with their old pricing and sale schedule. To me, JCP’s “sale prices” were their regular prices , as I wouldn’t ever pay full-price for anything anyway, so it’s nice that it seems like their regular prices are very close to what I would normally have to wait for a sale for.
However, I did notice that on things like Levi’s jeans, prices were not actually 40% off of their former shelf price. I’m pretty sure that Levi’s has their own set of price controls in effect, so JCP did not lower the prices on those. I didn’t notice much of anything else that didn’t seem to have the regular price lowered, but Levi’s were definitely at or near their old manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.
✓ Month-Long Values are smaller discounts than sale prices
The month-long values are nice – if you see something advertised that you want, you have all month long to get in to purchase it, instead of rearranging your weekend to hit a 12-hour sale.
Since they slashed the regular prices, I did notice that the month-long values were not a significant discount. For instance, these ana cardigans on the right were an “everyday value” price of $18, and they’re on sale for $14 for the month of February. That’s only about 25% off, which used to be a percentage discount that I wouldn’t touch at JCP because you knew the item would go on sale for 50% off.
But, since their everyday prices are lower, you have to expect that their month-long values will not be as large of a percentage discount. You’ll have to adjust your mindset for what percentage discount to expect at JCP.
✓ Is the “Best Price” really the lowest it will go?
From everything I’ve read, the “Best Price” or new clearance price, as I’m thinking of it, is as low as an item is going to go. I’m not sure what exactly was going on with these tags, but I thought it was a good thing that the new “best price” was more of a discount that the pink sticker of 70% off their former regular retail price.
However, while the items with Best Prices did seem to be a pretty good deal, I guess I’m not sure if I believe that it’s really going to be the lowest it will go. If it’s really the “best price”, does that mean that on the day after Christmas, they’ll mark their holiday merchandise down to the Best Price and leave it at that price until it all sells? Or will they come back again and lower it to a new Best Price?
They had a large display of women’s coats at a Best Price of $50, and I guess I find it a little hard to believe that they will leave all of those coats at $50 until they sell enough of them.
:: Final thoughts ::
I think I like the new JCP, at least for now. I felt like their everyday prices were a little along the lines of Target. For me, it means I can pay full-price for something (especially something basic like a t-shirt or tank top) and not worry about feeling like kicking myself a few weeks later when it’s a gazillion-percentage off of the price I paid.
I’m still a little bit confused and skeptical about the Best Price setup, but we’ll see how it works in time, I guess. I’m also wondering if this means that they won’t be offering many coupons – or any coupons at all? I think they’ve lowered prices enough that it won’t really make a huge difference, but still, a $10 off $25 coupon was a great way to get me in the door to purchase a few things that I’d been holding off on, so I’m curious if they’ll continue any sort of incentivization like that.
Have you checked out JCP’s new “Fair and Square” pricing? What did you think?