Stuck in the middle with you?

Here’s a comment from RetailWire about what JCP and SuperValu may both be struggling with right now…the problem of being the “guy in the middle” without a more clearly carved-out identity:

Both stores (JCP and SuperValu) have become victims of the “barbell effect,” in which they are outgunned by lower-priced competitors with better cost structures on the one hand, and stores with more pricing power due to higher-end assortments. In SuperValu’s case, think Walmart below and Whole Food above. It’s not always about price and promotional activity…a lot of these stores’ issues are driven by content and the store experience.

JCP’s situation is more complex: In hindsight, they may have erred not by pursuing a new pricing policy, but by focusing on it before addressing content and store changes that will take years to unfold. As a result, they have chased some of their most loyal (and bargain-driven) customers to competitors. And they have not done a good job reinforcing the value message in-store: Would it kill JCP to sign its new Levi shops more aggressively with its new everyday prices for jeans?

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