Fmr. JC Penney CEO Questrom: Merchandise has to sing to people

Former JC Penney Chairman & CEO Allen Questrom on the outlook for Federal Reserve policy, the U.S. economy and the state of the consumer.

E-Commerce to Blame for Decline in Consumer Spending?

By Business Leaders FOXBusiness

Former JC Penney (JCP) CEO Allen Questrom discussed the outlook for Federal Reserve policy, the U.S. economy and the state of the consumer.

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As speculation mounts over whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in September, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard suggested it may not be prudent to raise interest rates later this month.

“Well it’d certainly benefit the retailers and for the markets.  But, you know, the problem is we have the Fed governors talking at all different places all around there and every time one talks it causes the market to go up or down and I do think one day it’s going to start to go up but again I think they should try to get together and wait until the 21st of September meeting and all speak with one voice because it really makes the market crazy,” Questrom told the FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto.

Questrom then weighed in on the Federal Reserve policy’s impact on the economy.

“I think it’s very difficult for a central government to organize and control things and I think that they’re probably doing more harm than they’re helping.”

Questrom put some of the blame on retailers for concerns consumers are unwilling to spend.

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“If you have to keep coming back with the same old things, presentations are not exciting, people are not going to come out and shop.  Plus, you have the problem of e-commerce where people don’t have to come in as often as they do.” 

On the other hand, Questrom explained that it’s not too late to change the trend and draw consumers back to the stores.

“And I think all retailers, bricks-and-mortar, have to be able to recognize that they have to make the stores much more exciting, the merchandise has to sing to people.” Questrom continued, “I think when we come out with new and different product that the customer says ‘I’ve got to have,’ then you start to see people respond at the cash register.”

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Questrom then issued a challenge to retailers in an effort to boost consumer demand.

“It’s up to the retailer or the manufacturer to create new products or you’re not going to have demand, ‘the same old’ will not cause people to get out of their seat and come into the store, they’ll do it on the Internet.  And when you go through the Internet, which, by the way, has become a big issue, people go into the stores less often, [and] when they go into the stores less often, they buy less goods.”

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