With 120 years under its belt, JCPenney is a store that many Americans grew up shopping at. This popular department store has managed to maintain its position as a constant fixture in suburban shopping malls, despite numerous and well-publicized struggles—making it clear that there are still plenty of loyal JCPenney shoppers out there. But these long-time customers might be disappointed by a new change the retailer is gearing up to make in stores. Read on to find out what JCPenney will no longer let shoppers do, starting next month.
JCPenney has reinvented itself several times over the years.
Most department stores have struggled in the retail space as consumers have moved further away from shopping malls. JCPenney is no different, and the threat of potential extinction has prompted constant change from the department store over the last decade or so, Retail Dive reported. According to the news outlet, JCPenney has had five different chief executives in the last decade, each with their own ideas about reinventing the company to keep it alive amid financial downturns.
Most recently, the company has found itself with new owners after filing for bankruptcy in 2020. And in April 2022, it launched a new "Shopping is Back!" motto and campaign to celebrate its 120th anniversary and kickstart yet another revamp for the brand. "We've always cared deeply about our customers and we have a lot of exciting initiatives underway to make the JCPenney shopping experience even more relevant, accessible and seamless for our customers," the company told Retail Dive. "Our sheer breadth of categories and products provide families the ease of shopping at one destination."
One new change, however, might disrupt some shoppers' experience.
The retailer is making a big switch.
If you were a fan of shopping at the Sephora shops inside JCPenney, you might be upset with the department store's upcoming change. The retailer is getting ready to replace these in-store Sephora shops, The Spokesman Review reported on Sept. 19. According to the newspaper, JCPenney will start switching out these shops with its own newly-created beauty department, JCPenney Beauty, in October.
The company said it will roll out JCPenney Beauty to a total of 300 stores by early 2023, and then by spring 2023, the beauty department will be in another 300 locations for a total of 600 in-store JCPenney Beauty shops. Shoppers were first introduced to the department store's own beauty concept in Oct. 2021, when the retailer began testing JCPenney Beauty shops inside 10 of its U.S. stores, per Retail Wire.
Sephora did not renew its contact with JCPenney.
Sephora chose not to renew its 15-year contract with JCPenney, which is set to expire at the end of this year, The Spokesman Review reported. Instead, the popular beauty company has made a notable move to Kohl's stores in the last year, with roughly 600 Kohl's stores having a Sephora shop now. But Sephora will continue to operate in both Kohl's and JCPenney stores through the latter's transition to the new JCPenney Beauty experience.
"Sephora wasn't working for us," Marc Rosen, the CEO of JCPenney since Nov. 2021, told The Wall Street Journal in an April interview. According to Rosen, shoppers who came to buy Sephora's beauty products weren't buying from other areas in JCPenney's stores.
On the other hand, a spokeswoman for Sephora told The Wall Street Journal that the brand has valued its relationship with JCPenney over the years. According to Sephora's website, Sephora inside JCPenney stores started closing on Sept. 1. They are set to continue to close in stores throughout the U.S. through Jan. 2023.
JCPenney is pushing for "inclusivity" with its new beauty experience.
According to a Sept. 19 press release, JCPenney's national rollout of its retailer-owned beauty experience will build on its partnership with Thirteen Lune—which started with the launch of its pilot testing of JCPenney Beauty shops. Thirteen Lune is an e-commerce beauty website that was launched in 2020, and it is "designed to inspire the discovery of BIPOC-founded beauty brands that resonate with people of all colors," per JCPenney's press release. The e-commerce company will be "spotlighted" in stores across the U.S., and it will comprise roughly 20 percent of JCPenney Beauty's total assortment.
"Inclusivity is core to JCPenney. We exist to celebrate and serve America's diverse, working families which is why we are leading the charge to foster beauty inclusivity on a national scale," Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at JCPenney, said in a statement. "By creating a fully ownable beauty experience, JCPenney can quickly adapt and respond to our customers' wants and needs. Last year's preview launch allowed us to learn from our customers and evolve the JCPenney Beauty experience as it expands nationwide and online, making it unlike any other beauty retail experience."