Will bringing the outdoors inside stores work for J.C. Penney?
J.C. Penney recently announced plans to roll out a St. John’s Bay Outdoor lifestyle collection as well as install in-store departments in select stores to be called the Outdoor Shop.
Launching in approximately 600 stores and online beginning on Sept. 12, St. John’s Bay Outdoor is “versatile collection of rugged shirts, jackets and pants will carry him from outdoor adventures to a guy’s night out in style.”
The Outdoor Shop, measuring approximately 800-square-feet, will open in 100 stores and on jcp.com on Oct. 3. The shops will prominently feature St. John’s Bay Outdoor, along with the exclusive American Threads brand and two non-exclusive and tech-enhanced brands, The American Outdoorsman and HI-TEC.
“As America spends more time outdoors, J.C. Penney is launching an entirely new outdoor category for men that delivers what he wants and what aligns with his lifestyle,” said Michelle Wlazlo, chief merchant, in a statement. “With this expansion, J.C. Penney is taking part in the nearly $900 billion outdoor recreation industry by offering functional, durable apparel with our customer expectations at the core, all at an incredible value.”
The new outdoor labels complement active lifestyle brands available at Penney, including the retailer’s private brand, Xersion, and national brands such as Nike, Adidas, Champion and Puma.
The outdoor push adds depth to Penney’s men’s outerwear assortments that appear to mimic Kohl’s offerings. Macy’s carries more premium labels such as The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.
The outdoor theme may also add differentiation to the Penney shopping experience. Kohl’s has lately focused on health and wellness as a differentiator, adding Under Armour, Nike Plus and deeper assortments of other active brands. Kohl’s efforts have also included partnerships with WW (Weight Watchers), Planet Fitness and Alliance For A Healthier Generation.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does outdoors represent a viable sales opportunity for department stores? Will St. John’s Bay Outdoor and the Outdoor Shop gain much traction for J.C. Penney?