JC Penney holiday sales drop 0.8 percent, shares slide

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J.C. Penney said same-store sales for November and December fell 0.8 percent, the latest department store chain to report a disappointing holiday season performance.

The company’s shares fell as much as 5.8 percent to $7.40 in premarket trading on Friday.

“The first three weeks of November proved to be challenging in stores,” Chief Executive Officer Marvin Ellison said in a statement.

Comparable sales, however, improved from Thanksgiving week through the end of December, driven by demand for products including appliances, boots and toys, he said.

J.C. Penney maintained its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) target of $1 billion for fiscal 2016 ending January 2017.

The retail giant’s report follows Wednesday’s disappointing holiday sales reports from Macy’s and Kohl’s. Both companies saw weaker holiday sales, with November and December comparable sales slipping 2.1 percent. Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell calling the season “volatile” because “strong sales on Black Friday and during the week before Christmas were offset by softness in early November and December.”

Last month, retail analyst Jan Kniffen told CNBC he was worried about J.C. Penney because House Republicans have proposed ending tax breaks for companies — like the retail giant — that make interest payments. If the proposal passes, it would result in a massive cut in profits, Kniffen said.

Things in December seemed brighter on the consumer side of things, however. The Consumer Confidence Index in final month of 2016 reached its highest level since August 2001, hitting 113.7. Economists polled by Reuters expected the Consumer Confidence Index to reach 109 for the month.

—CNBC’s Elizabeth Gurdus and Reuters contributed to this report.

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