Retail

JC Penney Is Jumping Back Into Appliances

Though recently dominated by large box stores and (even more recently) by online vendors, JC Penney is going old school and returning to the sale of home appliances.

The department store made the announcement yesterday (May 9), noting that after a successful pilot of appliance showroom earlier this year, JC Penney will be rolling the program out to about half of its locations this summer.

Appliances are, of late, a growth business in the U.S. Sixty million washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and other major appliances were sold to American consumers in 2015.  That represents a 4 percent increase from 2014 and $38.4 billion in revenue according to Ryan Tuttle, a research analyst with market research firm Euromonitor International.

Moreover, consumers with somewhat more cash on hand in the economic recovery period are proving to be more willing to spend a bit more for a higher end model.

J.C. Penney sold appliances until 1983 when they were dropped in favor of a sharper focus on smaller home goods like bedding, linens and towels. The shift back to appliances is a move meant to respond to consumer interest.

"When we looked at data on what customers would buy from us if we carried them, appliances were at the top of the list," a JCP spokesman noted.

J.C. Penney will add kitchen and laundry appliances from Samsung, L.G. Electronics, G.E. Appliances and Hotpoint to about 500 stores starting in early July.  Appliance showrooms will be 2,000 to 4,8000 square feet and feature between 100 and 215 products apiece, depending on space constraints. To make room for the new showrooms, JCP will cut down on floor space for mattresses and furniture.

"Some of the home space we have is pretty unproductive, and this is helping force that conversation," noted a spokesperson for the store.

"By combining our soft home and window coverings merchandise with the industry's leading brands for appliances, furniture and flooring, J.C. Penney will become a destination for home design and redecorating, allowing us to weatherproof our business during seasonal periods of the year," CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement.

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