J.C. Penney woos college students with new dorm shops

PLANO, Texas — Since stepping in as J.C. Penney’s CEO in August 2015, Marvin R. Ellison has made it his mission to help the retailer get back on course. The objective has been to try to generate the type of traffic needed to boost same-store sales.

Ellison has tackled this challenge with a common-sense approach that focuses on quickly identifying — and filling — areas of consumer need. Latest on J.C. Penney’s agenda is the high school class of 2017, which will need dorm room essentials when it heads to college this fall. The retailer is, therefore, launching dorm shops in 500 stores this week, featuring a curated selection of bedding, bath and décor products designed to appeal to recent high school graduates and their parents.

New this year, the 400-sq.-ft. shops will offer mini refrigerators, microwaves, portable air-conditioning units, expanded storage solutions and, later this month, Packard Bell laptops. The retailer is also selling convenience by offering an extended selection of dorm products on its website, so customers can ship online orders to a J.C. Penney store located close to campus.

"It is estimated that parents and students will spend more than $6 billion on dorm furnishings this summer. J.C. Penney is focused on driving performance and capturing a significant share of this business by expanding the breadth of our dorm offerings to include new categories, such as microwaves and compact refrigerators, conveniently available in stores and online," said EVP and chief merchant John Tighe. "Our seasonal dorm shops boast high-quality bedding, bath and kitchen products from our expertly designed and quality-sourced private brands, including J.C. Penney Home, Home Expressions and Cooks. Customers come to us specifically for these trusted brands, allowing J.C. Penney to increase gross margin potential, while providing exceptional value for budget-minded shoppers."

Dorm Shop

The retailer has brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country, with many locations just a few miles away from the country's largest colleges and universities. J.C. Penney has also rolled out same-day store pickup to all locations, so parents can purchase sheets online and their kids can pick up the order just a few hours later at their local store.

"J.C. Penney has a sophisticated omnichannel network with a variety of convenient shipping options, which can be especially important as students head off to college. We have the benefit of leveraging our store fleet to deliver JCPenney.com orders quickly, efficiently and at a low cost to the customer, representing an opportunity to drive additional sales. These factors become especially important as new college students realize they need more towels, forget their pillow at home or want to purchase a portable air-conditioning unit for their dorm room," added Tighe.

In select stores, shoppers will also find an assortment of collegiate gear and accessories, such as a Texas A&M University blanket, a University of Arizona logo pillow or a West Virginia University laundry hamper. The retailer has even compiled a Dorm Essentials Checklist that lists all dorm necessities in one place, including XL twin sheets, dorm-appropriate cookware, mattress toppers, bath towels, clothes hangers, desk lamps and alarm clocks. The company has also compiled a list of stores located within just a few miles of major college campuses to demonstrate the convenience of having online orders shipped to local stores.

Click here to view the Dorm 2017 look book.


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