I've been an employee at JCPenneys for years. I have seen things change a lot and I want to clear things up to people about how the retail world is on the inside.

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/6hczB http://imgur.com/a/zzxNt

Edit 1: That's all for tonight everyone this was a lot of fun. I may continue tomorrow depending on how many and what kind of questions there are.

Edit 2: This was an awesome AMA and I had a lot of fun. I'll have to do another one of these sometime. Thanks for all the questions! I hope I cleared up some things about how retail is done from the inside. Stuff you'll never hear coming from the big guys that run the show.

Comments: 1050 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

22PoundHouseCat500 karma

Why aren't Levi jeans arranged by numerical order?

JCPAssociate514 karma

That my friend is a great question we ask almost every time we readjust the shop. They try and set it to where the best sellers are the easiest to get to or see such as the 501's and the 505's.

Dracon_Pyrothayan459 karma

As a fellow retail worker, you have my sympathies, friend.

Question is this: Who has been your most frustrating nemesis of a customer/coworker?

JCPAssociate864 karma

coworker: this one guy we had that had a sever attitude problem. He would come in an hour late and leave 2 hours early and complain about not making any money and when he would get mad over the simplest of things he would break things. The guy was strong and like 7 feet tall so they kept him around and just let him do whatever because he was our, no, he was THEE heavy lifter for anything that needed moved or put up high in the stockroom. He finally had enough one day and walked out.

frustrating nemesis of a customer: definitely the older lady couponers that dont understand we cant stack 6 coupons on 1 item to make it free especially when they dont read restrictions on coupons and try that on Nike and such. Some are understanding and upset a little, but then some go all King Kong and want Supervisors to tell them the same thing.

butt_woman440 karma

I once tried on a pair of khakis and found dirty underwear in the pocket, why did you do this to me?

JCPAssociate349 karma

That was probably a customer that returned it and no one checked the pockets. Women have a tendency to take underwear into the fitting rooms and try it on and leave it for the workers to put back, we can not sell used underwear.

butt_woman505 karma

They were mens pants, and a fancy sexy woman underwear. I'm still convinced it was you personally who did it.

JCPAssociate388 karma

haha, no if I had sexy woman underwear I would keep it for myself. I get paid to care, not to share.

drmygermy365 karma

I had a professor who says JCP is one of the best shops in terms of treatment of workers at their factories and quality of product. That makes me feel good about shopping there. But is it true?

JCPAssociate726 karma

Management and coworkers treat you like family. They will work with you very well and they believe in 'family-first'. If you have an emergency situation they will help you. Our stores General Manager has bought us all dinner before. Even our district management is friendly and brings treats sometimes when they come. Very good people to work with. They root out the bad eggs pretty fast actually.

aaronthenia272 karma

How many times has your store been rearranged in the past two years? JCP seems to change their layout and brand image and they seem to panic if something doesn't work and they immediately shelve it (pun not intended) but this just seems to cause confusion to consumers IMO. Do you think JCP needs further change (maybe a guy who is great with mannequins and window design) or should they try to change to a more online merchandise distributor?

JCPAssociate286 karma

The reason that things change around in the store every single time you go in there is because we get new stuff in all the time on trucks. For example we get bikini's starting in November or early December and get coats starting around June. We have to move all of this out to the sales floor in one massive department set to uphold a visual standard that the company sets. They have a test store to set a visual appeal for what goes on what table and where and what goes on the mannequins and colors and everything and they send that to us and when we do these sets we have to match that as best as possible or get chewed out by district management for not upholding JCP core standards. Your right though the way we do it by moving 2 departments a week is INCREDIBLY confusing to customers and workers and our Operations team cant find where merchandise goes half the time because it will be different every day. The entire concept is just as much opinion based so if one person moves something and someone else doesnt like it they will redo it. We have had our store manager make us move a department and the next day she didnt like it and we moved everything back. It's an incredible waste of time and money in my opinion but they see it as if they mvoe things customers will venture to find them which is opportunity for them to find more along the way and spend more money as well as getting trend zones set for things like prom or back-to-school. I wish so badly we would find a hard-set layout for things and work it as is and things would probably go smoother. We have so much merchandise on the floor people in wheelchairs cant get around easy if at all in some areas and we still have full stockrooms. We need more control over what inventory we get in as we have no control over what the Store Support Centers send us on trucks. I think our online is fine right now and they need to focus more on the physical locations because those keep closing more and more and we arent opening new stores to combat that so we just keep losing more and more money. The number one complaint from customers and employees is how much our stores move around merchandise. It becomes stressful when you go to stock a handful of belts that come in and the belt fixture is on a totally different carpeted pad area two or three times a week.

aaronthenia26 karma

Thank you for your well thought out answer.

JCPAssociate23 karma

any time, glad to help!

whatevermanwhatever177 karma

Serious question. It seems like the clothes at JC Penney are really poor in style and often in quality. Who decides what clothes get purchased for retail display?

EDIT: Not trying to rip on JCP. If it makes any difference, let me point out that Sears is WAY worse.

JCPAssociate172 karma

JCPenney is a brand name with tenure. They partner with different manufactures to sell their clothes so poor quality is often just the partner in general. However JCP does have their own private brands that they try to hide to cover that up such as A.N.A. and Stylus. Stylus is actually the exact same as the older brand just called JCP. It's the exact same. I feel sorry for people losing their jobs at Sears.

Right_Control_Button197 karma

I'm a sales associate at Sears. I work in the hardware department and have been for the past 6 months. Lucky it's one of the larger Sears stores so it's not being closed down. Mostly the smaller Sears stores are being shut down to allow for a more focused management approach to the larger stores. But I feel your pain for working retail lol. Literally had a customer tell me to "get my ass back to the register" when I was looking up stock for a customer on the phone. Me and my co-worker just looked at him and continued to walk away like we didn't hear him. It's incredible how human decency disappears when the "customer is always right" mentality is taken too seriously.

JCPAssociate181 karma

I think "the customer is always right" was created in a time when people were decent human beings to each other and that era has long past. We are overdue for an update lol.

KumquatEater136 karma

Is it really just online business, or that people don't have enough disposable income like their parent's generation? I buy all my clothes either thrift, after Christmas sales, and I keep clothes for years. Most my friends are the same way. And I grew up in "mall culture" where we would spend weekends at the mall, spending lots of money. I don't see that at all.

JCPAssociate108 karma

I think it's a bit of both. The world is changing in a weird way. Even though I work at Penneys and get a discount I still barely buy anything there and aim for clearance items when I do, but once your buying stuff on clearance for like a dollar or two were not making money on that we are just taking what we can get so we can make space for new items.

kdochney134 karma

Was it noticeable when consumers stopped coming in?

JCPAssociate212 karma

Yes, but it's more noticeable how much they have cut down on staffing because of it. The people I work with are amazing people, but the environment we work in has changed considerably in just a short time. Our store is one of the higher performing so we still do well but even then it is noticeable and I cant imagine how it is at stores that do bad.

moana8876 karma

What would you do when they let you go?

JCPAssociate145 karma

They would pull you into the office with whoever is doing it and explain to you why they are terminating your employment and for what reason. What gets intense is when employees steal and then the manager calls them in to the office and little do they know there's a cop on the way.

If they let you go then you apply like crazy.

mimibrightzola40 karma

How bad is employee theft?

JCPAssociate96 karma

We only have had a few at our store get fired and sent to the police for it but they told us the statistics before and I honestly cant remember the number but I know it was pretty high and most shrinkage from stores come from employees usually.

FatherStorm70 karma

What governs discounts and price reductions? Is there a hard set schedule? Also, a lot of times the cashier will find a discount or coupon for me, is this done for everyone or is it because I always am polite in my interactions.

JCPAssociate129 karma

People high up in the company decide all of that and have it sent down to the stores and our Operations team sets the prices for an upcoming ad. Usually prices are changed like twice a week unless the company sends out an emergency price change email that needs prioritized. Clearance prices are forwarded to the stores every week as well and how it used to be was if the price ended in a $.99 ending that was company controlled and that's what the price had to be. If it was something that ended in $.97 it was store controlled and we could lower the price on our own jurisdiction. They have since changed that though and that is why prices now end in random cent numbers. It's to be based on a more straight-forward percentage kind of thing.

Associates that give you the coupon because you forgot yours or whatever reason, that is absolutely because you are polite. They stress keeping those out of sight because customers will see it and ask for it and then everyone else in line saw that happen so now you have 5 customers who request a coupon which is lost money in a way when they would have purchased merchandise without the coupon if they didnt know you had one. Be nice, and we will save you money.

GlassShatter-mk253 karma

Have you ever been in a branch as it was being shut down? What was the general reactions of the employees if so?

JCPAssociate170 karma

I have not. The store I work in does extremely well in the company and ours would probably be one of the last to close, but I still see the effects it has had on our store. We have customers call and ask all the time if we are closing and management tries to get us not to talk about it a lot to quiet the subject but it's a looming fear you have while working there. In January our CEO stated that we only had 4 stores in the company under-performing and very shortly after that was when he announced they were gonna close like 140 stores to try and push our online sales more. What's scary is that he is trying to compete more in the field dominated by Amazon and anyone that works retail knows that the bread and butter of our customer base is the old ladies that dont like online shopping.

GlassShatter-mk217 karma

Glad to hear that your branch is stable, the one near where I live just shut down a month or two ago.

JCPAssociate39 karma

I feel sorry for the ones that lose their jobs, they told us that for the stores that close they will try and relocate workers to other stores but that's most often way too far of a commute for a different store. We already have some older lady dedicated customers that drive over 1 hour to come to our store because they like it.

Wrinklestiltskin38 karma

Why are the dotcom workers looked down on by the rest of the retail staff?

JCPAssociate65 karma

because the rest of the staff doesnt do dotcom and typically judge that the dotcom workers dont do as much actual work. There's a lot of work they do behind the desk though. Sometimes it is true however and some dotcom workers really dont want to be out straightening and doing stuff in other parts of the store. The sales floor staff is most usually understaffed while still being kept to a standard of running register, getting you all to sign up for credit cards, cleaning out the fitting rooms every half hour, straightening up the entire department, while normally having side projects to do on top of that. The people that do that look at the dotcom staff and see that they do a few transactions and get orders out of the back and that's about it.

Wrinklestiltskin34 karma

I just know from people that were in that department that they were constantly moving pallets of boxes and unboxing, quickly scouring the store in search of items, doing tons of order related things, having to run out packages, and of course dealing with unruly customers on the phone. Then the majority of the other workers treated them like they did nothing. I guess it makes sense that they don't see the actual tasks they do. Still crappy though..

JCPAssociate44 karma

Yeah they do a lot more than it looks like from the outside. It's kind of like that in every area though the Operations team looks down on the sales floor because "all they do is run a register" and the sales floor team looks down on the Ops team because "all they do is throw stacks of shirts on a table". I have worked in every area of the store so I can see the pros and cons for every zone but most people that havent can be judgemental of others areas of work. Ops team deals with an unrealistic and difficult workload, Sales Floor deals with all kinds of customers and the maintenance of how well the store looks. For it to work well it has to run like a well oiled machine and not all do unfortunately.

BiteMyWaffles30 karma

Do you have a furniture department in your store, and does it do well? The JC Penny here single handedly forced our furniture store to drop Klaussner because Penny's sells it at stupid low margin.

JCPAssociate28 karma

We dont have a furniture store here but I imagine if we did it wouldnt do well. There is another retailer here with a big furniture area and it's a ghost town in that part.

zUltimateRedditor23 karma

How was it in terms of hourly payment? What did you start off at? How were raised determined?

JCPAssociate74 karma

It's a minimum wage job, when I first started JCP paid above minimum wage and raises were once a year and mostly determined by how long you were there so basically you could get a raise worth 12 months of service each year but when they bumped up minimum wage your raises did not stack on the new base pay so after having a few raises now I'm back to making minimum wage.

Kuramo20 karma

1 - Why are you saying retail is dying?

2 - Do you know whether JCPenney would have branches in Mexico City? I mean, we Mexicans have Sears all over the country and a pair of SaksFifthAvenue's in Mexico City; but I would like to see more foreign retail stores here.

JCPAssociate66 karma

Physical retail is dying. Things like Amazon is hurting that bad. Why go out and drive to several different stores and spend all that time and gas when you could sit on a computer for a few minutes and order everything you need to survive. I like the experience of shopping and enjoying myself but at the same time I enjoy going to Amazon and ordering what I want for cheaper and having it come right to my door. Its already put our Sears under and they just closed a week ago and although I dont believe JCPenneys is gonna close all down this month or this year, I dont see it picking up from where it's at now. I think if they expanded stores to Mexico it would probably do well since there are none there now it would be a nice new thing. It all depends on how our CEO does things though. Most of the people higher up in the company went to college and got degrees in how to run places like this and they have never worked a day in the actual store on our level doing what we do.

tarzan32219 karma

Do they still do the enployee night every year just before Christmas?

JCPAssociate37 karma

Yeah we have parties and such and they treat us to good foods. Especially on Black Friday.

archibald_13 karma

I worked under Ron Johnson in Apple retail during their massive success of Apple retail stores, and then he left to head up JCP.

What do you think was the reason he failed so rapidly at JCP?

caleeksu17 karma

Former corporate employee here: he had a ton of amazing ideas, but forgot about the core customer. He should have tested the pricing strategy - most people say they want a straightforward price, but when it comes to shopping, that customer prefers to play the coupon shopping game.

He also killed some very successful private label brands like St. John's Bay.

He actually had some amazing ideas and the store experience was stronger, but not testing and going after the aspirational customer was killer.

After I left corporate the first time and went to work for another retailer, I remember going into a newly remodeled store and thought it was fabulous. And then I remembered I'm not the target customer at all, and realized they were totally effed. Attract the new customer, sure, but don't throw away the existing, especially the ones who are in the target demographic. It's not as many old ladies as many would guess.

JCPAssociate7 karma


Hokutonowolfken12 karma

Are you ever jealous of the dotcom workers?

JCPAssociate31 karma

Not me, I've done everything in the store including cash office. Dotcom workers deal with UPC numbers more than I like to and trying to find packages and call people and such. Working on Operations was probably my favorite area, you do all the fun stuff there. Working register isnt bad though because you get to meet all sorts of people and everyone has a different story to tell.

100PercentRudos11 karma

The constant pushing me and my wife about signing up for the in-store credit card was a huge reason we stopped shopping there. Can you please pass along the message to the higher ups that this method is an absolute turn off?

JCPAssociate8 karma

We try to pass it along but it's how the company makes money and the companies religion is making money. Trust me associates hate that they have to harass every customer about it but if we dont get one person a day to sign up then we get scolded about it. Only so many people are gonna want to sign up for a credit card and they only keep raising the goal for the day all the time.

darkascension193 karma

Why can you say that retail is dying?

JCPAssociate13 karma

When sales are down they cut hours. cut hours means no one is there to straighten up the store. a messy store means no one wants to shop it. our CEO is closing stores to try and push online sales.

Our CEO is trying to target a younger demographic by pushing online sales but at the same time he is introducing at-home window and flooring and installation which is something people my age have absolutely no interest in as well as appliances and if we did we would go to Lowes or Home Depot for something like that. He is pushing impulse buy 'dollar store' style items too so the clothing store JCPenney is starting to look like a messy bargain store and it's scary. I'm in my early 20's and if I buy something online I go to Amazon and with him closing more stores, stores that were doing well at that, it just makes you wonder when your store is next. We dont find out until that stuff goes public I didnt know what stores were closing until I read it on Yahoo one day after management told us they didnt know what stores were closing. Our CEO used to be the CEO of Home Depot.

All_Nighter_Long5 karma

Fellow associate here, how are you handling the hour cuts.? Cause I'm dying right now. Also, in addition to your post it seems that investors have low sentiment for JCP and retail in general, seeing how short interest is around 26%.

Edit: also, how do you feel about the roll out of home services with Hvac and bathroom remodeling?

JCPAssociate5 karma

Our store goes over budget all the time just because even though they cut hours back hard it didnt drop the work load at all. There is absolutely no way I could live on my own working here, as one of my recent checks wasnt even enough for my car payment. Before the hour cuts, one check was almost double how much my car payment is. ($300 for those interested)

FartSandwich4Lunch2 karma

What are your plans for the future? How long do you wanna stay there? Do you get paid enough to live on your own?

JCPAssociate11 karma

My plans for the future are right now I'm currently searching for a higher paying more stable job to suffice until I'm better in shape. My dream is to go to police academy and become a good cop. Penneys is a fun place to work it's just I want to get out now while I'm young and the fear of the direction of our company and just retail right now is scary and stressful. My girlfriend is about to graduate college and I cant compete financially working where I'm at now. I've been with her 5 years now and it stress me out everyday that I cant afford to buy her a ring yet. I live with my grandmother and mom who arent in great health and I help support them. I would love to be a police officer and help people. Ive been going to the gym and changing my eating habits. I have already gone from drinking water twice a year to 4 times a day and I'm getting better at it!

RegeneratingForeskin5 karma

Drinking water twice a year? How do you live?

JCPAssociate2 karma

I'm so used to it I see it as normal. I'm working on changing my diet though to get healthier and in shape before it becomes not normal.

twinkletoesbjjhoes4 karma

Awe you sound like a great boyfriend

JCPAssociate1 karma

Thank you!

MjrMjr1 karma

What did you used to drink? How much do you weigh?

JCPAssociate3 karma

I am at 198lbs right now I pretty much have lived on soda for the past decade. Water just didnt have a good taste to me but I've been drinking it more and more now and Im starting to acquire that taste and crave it more. I've nearly cut out soda entirely now.

bdelpesco2 karma

Why are you still working at JC Penney?

JCPAssociate3 karma

It's a big step up from the fast food industry, believe me.

MyOtherAltIsACuck-3 karma

How good is your loss prevention and what are their weakspots?

JCPAssociate15 karma

Well the weakspot is that we just recently got Loss Prevention. Our store used to have it years ago but they got rid of it to cut costs and it took years but we finally had enough proof that we needed an LP. Our LP we just hired actually was an LP at a different store in our mall and a few years ago on Black Friday she followed a guy into our store and right next to me confronted him and he tried to get away and she grabbed him and leg-swept him to the ground and dumped his bag on the dotcom desk and he had tons and tons of stuff from several stores so I would say she is pretty decent at it. I'm glad we finally got one, it's annoying how much people steal.

MyOtherAltIsACuck-2 karma

Is this the case at all stores, or just yours? And what is your JCP's policy on LP's going hands on? What about JCP's policy on chasing suspects?

JCPAssociate6 karma

That's just our store. I'm honestly not sure about hands-on yet but I do believe she can chase people after she completes her training. Regular associates are not permitted to accuse anyone of anything if we see someone stealing we alert a manager and they make a note of it so they can find it easy on the cameras and turn it into the police. They want associates to give excellent customer service because if we are right on them trying to help it will make them not want to run right out the door with everything. Sometimes it works and they ditch everything in a fitting room and sometimes they sprint out the doors. Ive been told a story that a few years before I started someone came into the kids department and tried to roll an entire 4-way rack out the door with everything on it. It did not work lol.

MyOtherAltIsACuck-37 karma

Really, that "customer service" bit works? LOL, the time before last that I lifted from JCP's I used an employee as cover, was chatting her up across a rack while putting on a pair of slacks that I then walked out with. Took off the tags and everything while talking to her. A bunch of amateur lifters today, I guess.

Anyway, are your cameras actively monitored or do they just record for later reference?

BTW, if LP's can chase that means they go hands on, because why else would you chase? That's good to know. I'm a boxer so I don't worry much about LP's that don't go hands on because if they step up on me it's blammo with the fists. LP's that go hands on all have to take restraint/takedown training for insurance and legal reasons. I could prolly still beat most of them, but that might mean a more drawn out fight and that could lead to other LP's getting involved, that's bad news. So I'll start carrying pepper spray and a knife when I lift at JCP's, since now I know they chase. That's really good info, thanks, your info will help keep me safe since I'll be armed now.

JCPAssociate3 karma

I dont know if all chase, I dont know how many stores have LP, but youre right I thought about that it wouldnt make sense if they could chase but not go hands-on. That customer service bit works sometimes but not all most people that steal are going to either way and if they dont that day then they will just be back. Our cameras are not actively monitored but employees notice when you try on clothes and walk out they usually tell other employees as a, "how my day was" kind of conversation. When LP is in her office though she can see the cameras whenever she looks over at them.

MyOtherAltIsACuck-7 karma

Cool stuff. Like I said your info is super helpful, I didn't know I should be armed when lifting from you.

So tell me about your spider wraps.

JCPAssociate4 karma

I wouldnt advise it, harming people is taken a bit more seriously than swiping some booty shorts, but as far as spider wraps honestly I dont even know how those things work our employee in Home deals with those things.