Retail roundup: J.C. Penney, Sears vacations, Wal-Mart’s wheat

--J.C. Penney is adding 600 Izod shops within its department stores as part of an effort by the struggling retailer to increase its hip quotient by building in-store boutiques, Women’s Wear Daily reports.

The new shops will take over space left after Penney earlier this year got rid of a Ralph Lauren line called American Living, said Emanuel Chirico, chief executive of Izod owner PVH. More than 500 of the stores will be 600 to 700 square feet and about 70 will be more than 1,000 square feet.

“J.C. Penney is going through a tremendous transformation. Everything about how they are going after the consumer is changing so clearly, there are going to be tactical issues that are constantly coming up,” Chirico told Women’s Wear Daily. “They’ve changed their pricing and marketing message but they haven’t really changed what’s on the floor yet.”

--Department store chain Sears is offering layaway plans for packaged vacations.


On Wednesday, the retailer launched, a travel site offering car rentals, hotels, plane tickets and packaged vacations that can be put on layaway and paid off a bit at a time.

After waning in popularity, layaway enjoyed a resurgence during the recession as retailers such as Wal-Mart offered the option to cash-strapped shoppers. The Sears vacation packages start at $399.

--Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is trying to bolster its green reputation by sending workers to America’s wheat fields to work with farmers to reduce their carbon output.

The retailer, which has been re-crafting its reputation after facing accusations of widespread bribery in its Mexican operations, is pushing to reduce the environmental impact that comes from growing its Great Value-branded flour items by using its vast influence as the world’s largest retailer, Reuters reported.

“We don’t have a lot of visibility in the supply chain, so we started in the field,” Robert Kaplan, a sustainability manager at Wal-Mart, told Reuters. “I hadn’t seen a wheat field before and I wanted to find out how we go from a green crop in the fields to flour on our shelves.”


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