Stop Push to Raise Retail Prices, J.C. Penney

Shareholder to Question Sustainability Push by J.C. Penney and Retail Industry Leaders Association Over Expected Harm to Customers and Small Suppliers

Plano, TX/Washington, DC – Today at the annual shareholders meeting of J.C. Penney the National Center for Public Policy Research plans to question J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson about the merchandise retailer’s participation in mandatory sustainability efforts destined to cause product prices to increase and small suppliers to suffer.

J.C. Penney is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), one of the country’s largest trade organizations, representing more than 200 companies and many of the largest American retail chains. Earlier this year, RILA issued the first ever industry-wide sustainability report in which it pressured its member organizations to reduce their environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas usage.

“J.C. Penney offers a broad spectrum of consumer products, and if RILA’s full sustainability report is realized, the price of every one of those products may go up substantially,” said National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof. “We hope Johnson will explain why his company belongs to an association that presses for these ‘green’ policies that will harm his company’s customers.”

To learn more about RILA’s sustainability push, read here.

“It appears major retailers are attempting to satisfy left-wing environmental lobbyists with this new sustainability push, but they will not be the ones paying for it, ordinary consumers will,” said Danhof. “Just like Hollywood hypocrites who live extravagant lifestyles and then buy carbon offsets to cleanse their guilt, these large retailers are pretending they aren’t what they are. There’s no shame in being part of a consumer economy. J.C. Penney and other retailers sell goods consumers need. They should be proud of that and be courageous enough to tell the liberal environmental lobbyists that responsible business practices do not include forcing financially unsustainable ‘green’ mandates on suppliers and small businesses — mandates that raise consumer prices in an already tough economy.”

Under mandated sustainability requirements, suppliers will see their manufacturing costs increase as retailers require them to use recyclable materials, reduce water use, reduce energy use, make sustainable packaging and spend more for compliance and staffing. This will cause higher prices. Small suppliers who cannot meet these new demands may be forced to close up shop, increasing unemployment and making some speciality goods unavailable to consumers.

“As this so-called economic recovery sputters along, unemployment remains high and consumer spending is lagging. RILA’s sustainability push will only exacerbate economic woes,” said Danhof. “RILA and J.C. Penney should rethink this sustainability push and focus on policy initiatives that support small businesses and encourage consumer spending.”

A copy of Justin Danhof’s question, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a J.C. Penney shareholder.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. In 2011 it received over 350,000 individual donations. Two percent of its revenue comes from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.