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J.C. Penney Is Testing Out Store Greeters

October 10, 2016, 9:19 PM UTC
Inside A JC Penney Co. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Customers exit a JC Penney Co. store inside the Queens Center Mall in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. JC Penney Co. is scheduled to release earnings figures on February 26.
Photograph by Michael Nagle — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The next time you go shop at J.C. Penney (JCP), you might be welcomed to the store by a greeter.

The department store, enjoying something of a renaissance, is trying out greeters at the entrance to its stores, the New York Post reported, echoing practices at rivals like Walmart (WMT) and J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison’s alma mater, Home Depot (HD).

The Penney greeters are current full-time employees tasked with spending two hours of their shift at the front of the store, the Post wrote, citing an interview with one employee. The Post also reported that the use of greeters was a test limited to some stores in the Northeast and has started this summer. One store worker who spoke to the Post said that the practice was causing longer lines at cash registers.

J.C. Penney did not respond to two requests for comment from Fortune.

That’s part of a wider effort to improve customer service at a time shoppers can, and are, just easily go shop on Amazon. Earlier this year, Walmart revived its door-greeter program by deploying staff at store entrances to improve customer service and fight shoplifting.


If confirmed, the deployment of greeters would be only the latest trick Ellison has brought with him from Home Depot since becoming Penney CEO last year. He has equipped store floor workers with many of the same tools as Home Depot workers, including handheld devices that allow them to track inventory and know what’s in a store.

In its most recent quarter, Penney reported comparable sales rose 2.2%, well above the numbers posted by Kohl’s (KSS) and Macy’s (M). The company almost went under a few years when an attempt to be hipper and the elimination of coupons sent shares spiraling. Penney is still feeling the effects of that, and is still far from profitable thanks in part to a massive debt load. And that likely explains why Penney, unlike Walmart and Home Depot, is not tapping full time greeters, but rather using the staff it already has.