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JCPenney shares have sunk to an all-time low

Customers ride the escalator at a J.C. Penney store in New York August 14, 2013. Now that activist investor William Ackman has stepped down after a week-long public spat with fellow board members at J.C. Penney Co Inc, all eyes are back on whether the department store chain can avert a potentially disastrous sales decline this holiday season. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX12L82
Reuters/Brendan McDermid
The floor has fallen out beneath JC Penney.
By Marc Bain, Jason Karaian
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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