JC Penney CEO: Bail Out Consumer Confidence, Not Banks

Retailing giant says Congress should concentrate on getting consumers "back in the game"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Associated Press
    JC Penney reported sluggish sales as customers cut back on spending.

    The chief executive of Plano-based JC Penney said the government needs to stimulate consumer spending.

    CEO Mike Ullman told Wall Street analysts that consumer confidence has "plummeted."

     “I think (for) the new (Obama) administration, it is job one for them to try to understand how to get the consumer back in the game," he said.

    Profits at JC Penney stores were down 53 percent in the third quarter, and same-store sales were down 13 percent in October.

    Overall U.S. retail sales went down almost 3 percent from September to October, far worse than most industry watchers expected.

    Ullman said consumer sentiment has overtaken financial instability as the chief threat to the nation's economy, but it is not getting much attention from Capitol Hill or the U.S. Treasury Department.

    He said Congress and the White House should shift gears and do something more drastic to stimulate consumer spending, or things will get much worse.