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JC Penney’s newest strategy: Year-round toy shopping |

JC Penney’s newest strategy: Year-round toy shopping

J.C. Penney stores had had toys in various capacities previously, Holland said, but the company stopped showing them in catalogs in 2004.

Company research showed toy customers spent more, came back more frequently and were more ethnically diverse, Holland said. And those customers buy toys for a variety of occasions, ranging from big celebrations to a child’s reward for good behavior in the store.

The new shops will feature seasonal items, as well as evergreen toys such as Barbie, My Little Pony, Shopkins and Hot Wheels. Other offerings include a slime mix kit and toys related to science, technology, engineering and math.

The toy shops will be adjacent to the Disney collections in the more than 600 Penney stores that have them, Holland said. The Disney collection comprises dress-up clothes, pajamas, accessories, plushes, back-to-school merchandise and various toys and figurines from the popular newer movies as well as the all-time favorites.

The department store chain has doubled its online collection of toys for toddlers, preschoolers and big kids in the past year and plans to expand further by the holiday shopping season. Its online offerings include trampolines and bikes, which are an especially popular item, Holland said.

Penney has been making over its stores by adding specialized sections that appeal to niche demographic groups. In February, it said it would open 70 more Sephora shops in its stores this year and add kitchen and laundry appliance departments to 100 others. Appliances debuted in 500 stores last year.

“We’re always trying to compete,” Holland said. Adding toys to the mix “is just one more way that we can differentiate J.C. Penney from the competition.”

J.C. Penney is benefiting from the addition of appliances and Sephora in its stores, analyst Dana Telsey said Tuesday in a CNBC interview.  The company signaled earlier this week that its second-quarter sales were up considerably. It reports results Aug. 11.

Penney, the 10th-largest public company based in D-FW, saw its stock close nearly 8 percent higher on the day at $4.98. That’s a long way off from its peak of more than $85 a share back in 2007. The company ended 2016 nearly $5 billion in debt.

It expanded 13 of its D-FW stores with a rollout of home services in May. That came after the company announced closings for 138 stores — nine in Texas — because they were not generating enough profit. Those closures, which should wrap up by the end of this month, were delayed from the initial schedule Penney announced earlier this year.

The affected stores in Texas are:

* Athens Village Shopping Center: Athens
* Borger Shopping Plaza: Borger
* Heartland Mall: Early
* El Paso downtown: El Paso
* Marshall Mall: Marshall
* McAllen downtown: McAllen
* University Mall: Nacogdoches
* King Plaza Shopping Center: Seguin
* Bosque River Center: Stephenville

The full list of closures is available online.

Twitter: @tmcook23

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