Is “bad news” contagious for retailers?

The question in my headline came up during a recent RetailWire discussion about the well-publicized troubles at JCPenney and Best Buy during the past year. (And since this comment was published, the news has only gotten worse for JCP.) I believe that this has a chance to become self-fulfilling prophecy:

Some of the commentary falls into the “schadenfreude” category: Enjoying another’s misfortune. Certainly every bit of bad news coming from JCP and BBY recently (from the results to internal management turmoil) fits this description. JCP in particular hasn’t done itself any favors over the past year by relentlessly beating the drum in public for the genius of its reinvention strategy, and then proceeding to fall on its face.

But the “bad news” syndrome can also range from companies like Sears Holdings (which stopped being relevant a long time ago) to consistently great performers like Apple who are now under a microscope for any perceived misstep. Apple doesn’t need to worry about its overall business model, but it does need to launch some innovative products that will refresh its image.

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