The decline of the American middle-tier department store: A case study of JC Penney
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Founded in 1902, JC Penney was once the epitome of where the middle-class American consumer shopped for general merchandise and was initially perceived as an innovator within its segment in the retail industry. How was it that this giant fell to financial strife, an erratic and unfocused corporate strategy and a waning customer base? This thesis works to uncover the challenges that face not only JC Penney, but the middle-tier department store segment as a whole. Through the format of a case study, this work analyzes the factors influencing their decline in addition to charting financial performance across a thirty-year period (as far back as public records are accessible). Net sales and net income as a percentage of net sales data were collected in order to create a visualization which illustrates the prolonged decline of JC Penney and similar retail formats. This thesis offers insight to the current trends in the retail industry, and how examines the fate of middle-tier department stores.