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Fair and Square

My wife is frustrated (and thankfully, it is not my fault). She used to love going to JC Penney. Well, love might be a strong word for someone who finds shopping a chore. But now she finds that JCP rarely makes it on her list. And she is not alone. JC Penney just reported that same-store sales fell a whopping 26.1%!

Many are blaming their new Fair and Square pricing policy.

My wife is one of them.

She says it is neither Fair nor Square. As she pointed out to me last night, our prices are Fair and Square. They are clearly marked on every package. There are no misleading header cards on the racks. There are no surprises at the register. There are no gimmicks, exclusions, mark-it-up-to-mark-it-down contrived sales. There are no hidden fees, add-ons, hoops or loopholes. The price you see is the price you pay.

That is what JC Penney promised us when they launched this new pricing policy at the beginning of the year. The problem isn’t in the policy. The problem is they failed to deliver what they promised.

Many pundits will wrongly claim that customers want sales and deals and JCP’s failure is because they aren’t offering enough deals. I will argue that their failure is because they didn’t actually make their prices Fair and Square. Every time my wife went in, the prices were not clearly marked, some items had no price at all!  The header cards rarely matched the price on the product and even less the price at the register. The prices seemed to fluctuate faster than the stock market.

Before you listen to the pundits try to tell you that customers only want sales and discounts, understand that many retailers are quite successful offering pricing that is fair, clearly marked, and not jumping all over the place. JC Penney promised us that back in January. Empty promises lead to empty stores.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS There is a Fair and Square pricing policy that keeps your customers happy and your margins strong enough to be profitable. Download the free eBook Pricing for Profit here.

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