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J.C. Penney at record low, wraps up dismal quarter for department stores

J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) on Friday rounded off another set of dismal earnings reports from department store chains, highlighting their struggle to adjust to the new normal for consumers: looking for better bargains and shopping online.

J.C. Penney posted a steeper-than-expected drop in same-store sales for the first quarter, mirroring reports from Macy's Inc (M.N), Kohl's Corp (KSS.N) and Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) on Thursday.

Penney's shares tumbled roughly 10 percent to a record low. Nordstrom sank 9 percent. Macy's and Kohl's were off about 2 percent. Macy's was trading at its lowest since 2011.

Department stores have for years been struggling with declining mall traffic as well as tough competition from online retailers such as Inc (AMZN.O) and off-price stores such as TJX Cos Inc (TJX.N).

"The surprise for everybody is that these market share shifts are happening even faster than anyone else thought they would," said Morningstar analyst Bridget Weishaar.

Adding to department stores' problems in the latest February-April quarter was a delay in tax refunds in February...