Jewelry Plays a Big Role in J.C. Penney December Sales

J. C. Penney Company, Inc. said Thursday that same-store sales increased 2.6 percent for the five weeks ended Dec. 30, 2006, in line with its initial expectations for a low-single digit increase and compared with a 2.2 percent gain last year. Total sales increased 4.2 percent for the five weeks. The best sales performances for the month were in children’s, fine jewelry and fashion jewelry, as well as seasonal and gift categories such as home entertainment.

Geographically, the best performances for the month were in the west and northeast regions of the country, the Plano, Texas-based company said. While certain apparel areas were impacted by unseasonably warm weather across much of the country, the company said it is pleased with overall holiday sales performance and its enhanced “redbox gifts” program.

Internet sales through www.jcp.com increased 15.2 percent in December, on top of a 26 percent increase last year. Total Direct (referring to its Internet and catalog business) sales, including catalog media and outlet stores, decreased 1.4 percent for the period compared with a 4.3 percent increase last year. Direct sales reflect improvement in the performance of apparel, accessory and gift merchandise, partially offsetting weakness in soft home, which represents a significant share of the Direct business.

The company said that January same-store sales are expected to increase in the low-single digits and Direct sales are expected to be down slightly. This year’s 53rd week, which will be included in the January reporting period, is expected to generate approximately $200 million in total department store and Direct sales.

J. C. Penney Corp., Inc., the wholly owned operating subsidiary of J. C. Penney Co., Inc., is one of America’s largest department store, catalog, and e-commerce retailers. The company operates approximately 1,037 JCPenney department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.