business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Huffington Post has a piece that consists mostly of pictures purported to have been taken at JC Penney stores around the country, by a 17-year employee who took the photos as evidence of "the deterioration of the once-mighty retail giant as it seeks to regain its former glory … The images are defined by disorganized displays, broken signs, empty shelves and messy departments."

You can see them here.

Now, it is hard to know whether the scenes depicted in these photos are, in fact, taking place in JC Penney stores everywhere, just as it is hard to know what the employee's motivations are in supplying the photos to Huffington Post, as opposed to, say, showing them at a managers' meeting.

My guess … informed by my own biases … is that there are probably are a lot of stores that are in lousy shape … but I'm also open-minded enough to think that it is at least possible that the reason these displays are so awful is that they've just endured a big day of non-stop customer traffic and sales. It's possible, though I'm dubious. (I also am willing to bet that there are some JC Penney stores out there that are in great shape, because they have great managers and great staffers who take pride in what they do.) As for motivations, I think it is probably fair to say that it reflects lousy morale at a company that has had more than its share of problems, both in the executive suite and on the front lines.

But the real point is that the pictures exist, and they're out there. There's no room for retailers that will tolerate situations like these, and I'm not sure how many people would be shocked to find JC Penney stores to be in this kind of disarray.

This may or may not be an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: