Wednesday, September 11, 2013

JCA Community {quote it!}

Virginia PrepModern (in this post):
Once again I am disgusted with the pricing "strategy." It's like "festival seating" at a concert. Not my cup of joe.
HA! So true! I know many of us have discussed on this blog the uneasy feeling of buying an item only to find it reduced (sometimes drastically) after a few days. At that point you feel like a fool paying the higher price and therefore wonder if you should ask for a price adjustment or just return it altogether.

I find the pricing fluctuations happen at both regular retail J.Crew and J.Crew Factory. A "classic" example is the Classic Schoolboy Blazer, which jumped from $198, then $99, to $60, up around $128, then to $178 in just a two week period (refer to the "J.Crew Classic Schoolboy Blazer {new school vs old..." post).

When it comes to Factory items, the pricing fluctuations tend to relate to the promotion going on. When there is a new promotion (like x% off a product category), then the base price of the item goes up. So the price of an item might be the same before the new promotion was even introduced.

JCAs almost need to maintain a spreadsheet to keep up with all the changes! ;)


  1. Some of the pieces from the 25% off FALLSTYLE sale (like the pintucked popover and boy shirt in green plaid) went to FS overnight. Who can keep up?

    I think that the crux of the matter is that most of us don't feel that the clothes are worth full price. JCA's have reported buttons of $200 blazers popping off - in the dressing room. The styles are being knocked off everywhere, some places for a lot less with similar quality. No matter what your financial situation is, nobody likes to feel like they're throwing money away.

    When JC does seem to nail something, it will sell out at full price. It's just a matter of what to do with all the stuff that didn't do so well for whatever reason. Only 6 out of 46 items in the shorts sale section are $20 or less - they should all be! It's the middle of September!

    It's like feast or famine with JC. I think you just have to set your internal whatever for what you think is a fair price for an item and pull the trigger when it hits that.

    1. Silver Lining - you hit the nail on the head. As startling as the price fluctuations and quick FS transitions can be, I find it equally odd that there are items that sit in the sale section for a year or more without additional markdowns.

      The stagnant shorts section is indeed peculiar (and you should see the shorts selection in the Crewcuts sale section - even worse!)

      Another annoying pricing phenomenon is the expensive pieces that initially sell out immediately, but then pop-back continuously, in a range of sizes, for the next six months. (The Noelle dress is a perfect example).

      While I am normally a sale hound, there are times when I buy at full price or with only a small discount, but only when I'm sure that the item will be central to my wardrobe for a good while.

  2. For me, the bottom line is that I shouldn't buy anything for more than 25% off original price, although I occasionally forget. That's my general rule. If I've paid 25% off and it goes below that, that was also a risk I took. I don't know, I just can't get mad about it when I know pretty much what is going to happen. I'm glad they have the promotions, even if I don't come out on the winning end of all of them.

  3. Plus the difference between online and store prices...I have basically stopped shopping JCrew and shop online at stores where the prices online and in store match.

    Plus the past year the roll outs have left me totally uninspired. I used to have a laundry list of items and loved each roll out.

    Now I can go days after a new roll out and not even be tempted to look. So sad.

    Quality and style going downhill so fast and with the pricing games. I am basically out...:(

  4. To be fair, if we didn't look at the prices everyday we wouldn't know. The reality is that even if we don't visit blogs or stalk websites, retailers are blaring their promos via email, social media and of course in the stores.

    An indisputable area of opportunity for J Crew is to mark their sale prices correctly on the tickets. Weeks will go by with the higher sale price and the merchandise sits, despite addtl 30% off promos. Misses in design are also a factory, but I think more of it were go if it were ticketed accurately. Also, if they're having an addtl 25% off out-of-case jewelry, put a sign on it! The first place I found out about it was here on JCA. I went into 2 different stores after that and only one SA told me about the promo. So that's another area of opportunity -- sign the merch because the SAs are not always going to spread the news. And let's not get started on the secret sale business...

  5. Has anyone used their bounceback code and the FALLSTYLE code on the same order? Why is this impossible?!

  6. I so agree with this!

    And I also have my own theory in terms of the pricing strategy, I think long time JCA knows that all items eventually go on sale, and with additional % off promotion to follow, sometimes within the same season. The Classic Schoolboy blazer is an excellent example, or the Jeweled Sweater/Sweatshirts etc. Why pay full price when you know or can predict that the item could potentially go 50% off in a matter of weeks?

    Don’t take me wrong, I am not whining about the constant promos or sales as a consumer, but if I am trying to run a business, I would have used a completely different pricing approach. For starters, I would aim the price points probably at least 20-30% lower than what the mark up is currently, offer much less sales or promotion, perhaps only new arrival promo and end of season sales, few times a year, and then maybe a once a year clearance sale with super markdowns. Getting rid of the seasonal final sales, but retain the 60 days return policy. And perhaps only do Final Sale when clearance sale happens.

    I think if they do it this way, I will have more incentive to buy at full price now knowing that #1) the mark up won’t be so ridiculous to start with and #2) things won’t go on sale in a matter of weeks. So if I really wanted something badly, I will get them now instead of waiting for a promo, and the chances of me regretting my purchase later and decided to return/re-buy will be less also as I probably will be more careful in selecting what I really/truely want to pay at full price.

  7. So I had a giggle to see myself quoted at the top of the post--Thanks, Alexis!! :0)

    A few thoughts:

    1. Because of all the price changes, going up, down, sideways, I will rarely buy full price. I either wait, or if something might sell out, figure I can live without it.

    2. The exception to this is if I need a dress for a particular occasion, and JC has it. This saves me shopping time.

    3. I am able to wait out pricing kookiness more than lots of JCAs, however, because I live in Virginia...I'm within easy range of at least five stores, two of which are incredible (Georgetown and Tyson's Corner) so I have shopping options. These two stores' sale sections tend to be well-stocked. I'm also in range of at least three Factories.

    4. I was particularly annoyed last weekend because I bought things on the day of roll out, and they were discounted. But with such a drastic difference two days later (larger in-store promos plus 40% Gilt City) it was ridiculous...and I ranted :0)

    5. But I do think this "strategy" devalues the merchandise. And now with the knock-offs coming straight to Factory albeit a year later, some JCAs are getting irritated.

    6. When I shop at a retail stores, I now pick a price I can live with, combine that with need, and that's how I make the purchase decision.


    Since I have been to so many JC's (also in NYC, CHI, and L.A.) I know the power that a manager or SA has to stack discounts. It seems to be entirely at the discretion of whomever you're with at the registrar. Sometimes it's a yes, sometimes it's a no.


    Last March a manager (the head manager) of a retail store told me that "soon" prices in-store and online were going to be exactly the same.

    Still waiting.

    1. I think you've really hit the nail on the head for me with the thought that the pricing strategy devalues the merchandise. It certainly does in my head. What is the schoolboy blazer really worth? The $60 promo? The $80 promo? Full price? I'm an educated consumer and I know what I'm willing to pay, but the fluctuating prices feel like a mental game that's disrespectful of the relationship between retailer and loyal customer.

  8. I can only assume the constant promo nonsense works. Many consumers, maybe even most, aren't going to stalk product/prices the way JCAs might. Imagine that I'm just average shopper and because I once shopped at JCrew I get the email about 30% off new arrivals at factory. If I'm not a regular browser on the site I think I'm getting a great deal, even all I'm getting is darn close to the price JCrew wants to sell it for.

    This kind of marketing isn't about us, its about the mass of consumers who want to think they got a good deal.

    Conside When the new CEO of JCPenneys went to a "here's the price, its lower than before, but now we don't do a billion coupons/sales" their regular shoppers revolted. The difference is that the regular JCP shopper is a bargain hunter who loves feeling like the coupon was their secret and the deal was great. KOhls is the same way. If they just priced everything instead of pricing it and then claiming its 50% off adn then telling you you saved X at the register, the bargain shopper would be pissed. (do they not see through this?). I think that JCAs are offended in part by the JC promos because it effectively lowers our perception of the product. We aren't bargain hunters (if we were we'd never shop JCrew in the first place). But we aren't the vast majority of consumers. The JCPenney shopper is.


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