JCPenney shares have sunk to an all-time low

The floor has fallen out beneath JC Penney.
The floor has fallen out beneath JC Penney.
Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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After another sharp decline today, following yet another batch of disappointing quarterly results, JCPenney’s stock has hit an all-time low. It fell below $4 a share for the first time today (Aug. 11).

To put this long, unrelenting slide into context, at its peak in June 1998, the company’s market capitalization was about $30 billion. Today, its market value is just over $1 billion.

Like other department stores, JCPenney is grappling with a fundamental shift in the way people shop. Malls are closing. Foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores is falling. E-commerce—and Amazon—are grabbing marketshare, leaving department stores anemic and flailing. They often turn to deep discounts to draw shoppers, squeezing their margins even when people are purchasing.

JCPenney has been one of the chains hardest hit by these shifts, as evidenced by the ongoing plunge of its share price. It’s another milestone in the long, slow decline of the American department store.