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The Black Friday Battle: Is convenience hurting retailers?

In Terre Haute, you could say JCPenney has survived a few seasons of its own.

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 6:22 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - 'Tis the season to be shopping!

In Terre Haute, you could say JCPenney has survived a few seasons of its own. 

With the departure of retail giants like Macy's, Carson's and Sears, JCPenney is one of the only big names still left at Honey Creek Mall.

"It's really a driving force to do even more, even better," said General Manager Jen Rolape, "Because we want to be here for the long haul."

Rolape is a retail veteran with 15 years of experience, seven of those being spent with the JCPenney Company. 

"You just have to be really open to trying new things, and learning new things and really keep a positive attitude," she said, "You go with the flow because that's what it is. It's something different every day, and that's part of why I love the job."

Rolape says adapting to change has been a big part of the retail world, especially within the last ten years.

The company is still in what Rolape calls the "turnaround time". JCPenney is in the middle of a transition with leadership in a new CEO. However, that's not the only change the retailer is adapting to.

Retailers nationwide are continuing to keep up with the evolution of holiday shopping, including Black Friday.

JCPenney announced they'd be hiring more than 39,000 seasonal employees nationwide ahead of the holiday season. Locally, Rolape says she's brought on about 30 to 40 additional hires, some of them being former associates.

"We spend a lot of time training, getting them ready," she said, "and then the hours that go into prepping, just the trucks. We have additional merchandise coming in, our inventory grows this time of year. So the whole team works really hard to get that done."

In addition to the extra staff, training and inventory, Rolape says they've added extra points of sale to speed up the checkout process, backup plans for when items run out of stock and other tasks to keep convenience on the forefront. 

But with convenience taking such prevalance in the Black Friday experience, could it also be hurting retailers and in-store sales? Especially now with 

We polled more than 100 shoppers asking if they'd be making Black Friday purchases in-store or online. More than 70 percent said they'd be shopping online while barely a quarter percent said they'd be making trips in-store.

Surprisingly though, Rolape says online sales haven't done nearly as much damage as people may think. She says about 80 percent of sales in the country still come from brick and mortar stores.

"If anything, I feel like it's really kind of enhanced the shopping experience with the way that technology is moving forward," she said.

Rolape says they've been working with technology rather than against it, which in turn has resulted in customers still entering the building at some point. 

"They're still touching our store at some point," she said, "We offer great online deals, they can pick up in-store, most items are shipped here for free. We also have what they call buy online, pickup in-store. So if they're shopping online and maybe they're in a hurry, we can have it ready for them."

While Rolape admits JCPenney is doing well as far as customer count, she says they're not complacent. As the ways of retail continue to change, Rolape says they'll be changing right along with it.

"We're here to win," Rolape said, "So whether it's a brick and mortar or an online store that we're up against, we want to provide the best products, the best prices, the best service and it is a motivation because we want to be number one."

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