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Penny less: Once mighty retailer falling on hard times

JC Penney isn't reveling in the post holiday bliss that some retailers are experiencing. Instead of counting their sales receipts and tallying just how much inventory they've moved, J.C. Penney is closing stores, laying off employees and counting down the days until the next round of cuts or layoffs are looming.
But J.C. Penney isn't the only retailers in the midst of losing money and downsizing for a variety of reasons. Wet Seal, Radio Shack and Sears are just a handful of the many companies that are struggling mightily to stay relevant and keep sales above water. The result has been poor numbers for years, failure to reinvent their image or marketing that isn't connecting with the masses, thus leaving those aforementioned stores, and others, headed down a path that is only going to get worse.
And, it doesn't look like there is anything "better" on the horizon, either.
So what exactly went wrong with these former retailer titans? Why have they gone from super heavyweights to the brink of bankruptcy (or, for some, already having declared it)?
The easy answer centers on the world wide web and how the internet has changed shopping for the better, from a convenience standpoint. Consumers no longer have to visit brick and mortar stores and instead can order an entire wardrobe or toaster from the comfort of their own home.

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While that reason certainly seems more than just legitimate, you have to wonder if that is more excuse than fact. Consider that stores like Sears, J.C. Penney and others have web sites, thus giving customers the ability to order from them, just as easily as they could from Amazon or other more popular online shopping spots.
The truth is J.C. Penney, Sears, Radio Shack and others of that struggling ilk simply aren't contemporary on a number of levels. The marketing has dropped the ball as far as creating new customers, and change the branding of these antiquated retail moguls. Sears, for example, has basically been the same store for 20 years. Furthermore, they really don't do one thing really well, but rather try to be all things to all people (hardware, electronics, appliances, clothing, etc.). That model is being done much better, cheaper and more efficiently by other retailers.
Also hurting the cause of these retailers is their association with shopping malls, another dinosaur in the eyes of customers. The traditional shopping mall is a dying breed, and they are closing just as quickly as some of the retailers that inhabit them. Retailers like Target for example have the ability to close down some of their oversized stores and either open them in better locations or make them smaller scale stores.
Does J.C. Penney or Sears have that option? Probably not. Instead, those old school mall retailers have hitched their proverbial wagon to an equally outdated concept (the mall) and must live with the consequences: dwindling customers and a lack of interest of going to the mall in comparison to ordering online or finding a store more like Target or Wal Mart with the one stop shopping mentality.
Turning around the sinking ship that is J.C. Penney or others isn't going to be easy, if the brains behind the companies even believe the stores and image can be saved. Cutting back isn't always a bad thing, since most of these retailers made the mistake of opening too many stores too quickly (see Starbucks) and now can't financially support them.
Typically, however, closures are the writing on the wall that everyone involved can see but no one wants to read.

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