Roulston Retail Partner Dick Seesel on Whether Back-To-School will Represent a turnaround for JC Penney

August 1, 2013

Back-to-school is the second most important shipping season each year but it will be more important than ever for struggling retailer JC Penney especially after the recent rumor that the company was facing serious credit issues. One potential indicator that Penney is getting its business turned around comes from new research by Experian Marketing Services that shows the chain’s website as second only to Walmart’s for back-to-school shoppers. Last year, Penney didn’t even crack the top 10. The chain is touting its new Joe Fresh line for kids and emphasizing discounts on popular own-brands such as Arizona jeans and shirts. Dick Seesel isn’t sold on JCP’s expectations this back-to-school season stating, “I’m skeptical about the Experian data and would like to see other studies backing it up. Just to cite one example, it’s hard to see why Target—a much bigger company with a more robust business in BTS categories—would be surpassed by JCPenney in its recovery mode. The JCP turnaround story (and stock price) was unfortunately clouded yesterday by apparently incorrect reporting about credit issues. (Inaccurate reporting and the New York Post…enough said.) There is evidence that JCP traffic counts and comp sales are starting to improve against terrible 2012 comparisons, but there is also evidence in the stores that the company has a long way to go. Outside of a few pockets of merchandise strength, such as school uniforms, there is not enough conviction in areas like dorm room supplies, even in much-touted areas like the new Home Store.” To read the full article please visit

Dick Seesel is the Manager and owner of Retailing In Focus, LLC. He was most recently a Senior Vice President and Divisional Merchandise Manager at Kohl’s Department Stores. Dick is proud to have helped Kohl’s grow from 18 stores to a national retail powerhouse, during an era of change and consolidation throughout the retail industry. During his 24 years at Kohl’s, Dick managed the Women’s Accessory, Jewelry, Cosmetics and Intimate Apparel businesses. Prior to Kohl’s, Dick worked for Dayton’s Department Stores (Minneapolis, MN) and his family’s retail business. Dick will be participating in our Retail Roundtable in New York on August 15th at 2 PM ET and if you would like to attend or dial-in to the event please contact

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