J.C. Penney’s comp store sales fell another 16 percent in the first quarter of 2013—and the company pointed a finger at policies initiated by now-departed CEO Ron Johnson.
“The sales decline in the first quarter is partially attributable to construction activities in connection with the transformation of the home departments in 505 stores,” said a company statement. “Results for the quarter also reflect its prior pricing and marketing strategies, which are being changed under new leadership.”
The 16.4 percentage plunge in sales—to $2.6 billion—improved on some of the company’s prior declines, such as last year’s fourth quarter, when sales fell nearly 30 percent. It comes, however, on top of a 20 percent sales drop in the first quarter of last year. All in all, Penney’s first quarter sales have fallen more than a third in two years. First quarter comp sales dipped 16.6 percent from the prior year.
These results are just “preliminary,” said the company, which hopes to announce final results later this month.
J.C. Penney’s estimates cash and cash equivalents to be approximately $821 million. Total debt is expected to be approximately $3.818 billion.
Johnson, the former Apple stores chief brought in to transform the company, left in April after a year of plunging sales. The department store is trying to woo shoppers back in part by running a commercial that says it will “listen” to its customers.