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J.C. Penney hopes free-haircut program boosts sales

J.C. Penney hopes free-haircut program boosts sales
Wesley Brooks, 7, of Huntsville, Ala., has his hair cut by Melinda Gilbert at the J.C. Penney styling salon in Huntsville. (Dave Dieter / Huntsville Times / Associated Press)

J.C. Penney said it will be offering haircuts to children for free starting in November after a trial program last month resulted in 1.6 million crops.

Kids in kindergarten through sixth grade will be eligible for free cuts every Sunday starting Nov. 4, the chain wrote in an emailed newsletter to customers.

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The struggling retailer could use the influx of potential customers. J.C. Penney has been cycling through revamp strategies after several quarters of dismal earnings reports and a stock price less than half what it was five years ago.

Last summer, the company lured Apple Inc.'s retail chief, Ron Johnson, to take over as chief executive.

The chain announced a new pricing system this winter that replaced its routine sales blowouts with everyday low prices -- but has since brought back clearance events after customers rejected the changes.

In May, J.C. Penney nixed its dividend program and watched its stock make its deepest-ever plummet. The company this summer said it would cut hundreds of workers.

Last week, the retailer often accused of dowdiness announced a new product line created in tandem with saucy women's magazine Cosmopolitan. It also said this summer that some stores will include Levi's "denim bars" with "fit specialists" and mobile checkout options. The company also features exclusive boutiques for the Liz Claiborne brand.

The shop-within-a-store concept is already being worked into J.C. Penney’s competitors, including Target, Sears and Macy's.

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