J.C. Penney’s Web Sales Dropped 33% in 2012

Consumers did not just walk past their local J.C. Penney stores in Ron Johnson’s first year as its CEO. They also stayed away from JCP.com.

JCP’s total sales for the fiscal year 2012 were down 24.8%, and its ecommerce sales decreased 33%.

The $1.02 billion in ecommerce sales for the year were the lowest for JCP since 2005, when it became the first retailer to break the $1 billion mark in online sales.

And JCP.com slumped to the finish line: Fourth-quarter Internet sales through JCP.com were $315 million, a 34.4% decrease from last year.

In its earnings call Feb. 27, Johnson said sales in its home goods sector was a primary reason for JCP’s online slump.

“Home has been nearly 50% of the business,” Johnson said during the earnings call. “And so as our home business suffered, as we move through our transformation, that pulled down our Internet site. We have put a lot of work into our site into a variety of strategies to improve its performance.”

Johnson also blamed comparison shopping for the fall.

“The internet as we all know is the most promotional field in retail today,” Johnson said. “People compete and go online and compare prices and buy things primarily based on price and delivery and other things.”

But Johnson thinks the March 15 launch of Canadian fashion line Joe Fresh, and a revamped home store in May, will help JCP differentiate itself, and that will help boost online sales.

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