A JCP customer is very different than most (not all) Apple customers and you certainly can't use the same techniques. Also, and even though Target has tried this to a certain extent, you can't upscale a JCP store any more than you can upscale Wal-Mart. The brand is too well established.
There's absolutely nothing Johnson or anyone else could do to get me to walk into a JCP, so he's got to rely upon the customers that JCP has already, but perhaps get them to spend more.
What's interesting about the failure of the "honest pricing" model is that Apple does completely the opposite - they tend to charge list price for everything, even those third party accessories that can be purchased elsewhere for less. It's always boggled my mind a bit that consumers are willing to pay full price in an Apple store. My usual thought when I see those prices is, "are they nuts? - I can walk down the street and get it for less."
Consumers are idiots. They want to feel like they're getting a discount. This is why Black Friday sales work so well even when stores provide pretty much the same discount they provide all the time.
When some of the electronics chains have declared bankruptcy and have had liquidation sales, I've stopped in to look for bargains, but usually, the prices are still higher than what NYC based large retailers BH and J&R would charge. And yet consumers clear the merchandise out as if they were giving it away. In fact, I stopped a couple from buying an overpriced Sony TV when I brought up J&R's site on my phone and showed them that it was $300 less there. It's all psychological and consumers need to feel that the products they're purchasing are a bargain, even if they're not.
Frankly, I don't know how any of the big general merchandise chains survive. It's all a bunch of junky, look-alike merchandise and most of these chains have far too many stores. Does any region need two of the same chain stores within two miles of each other, especially in a still poor economy? I just noticed that Bloomingdales opened a new store on Old Country Road in Long Island probably less than a mile away from their store in the Roosevelt Field Mall. Some chains are on Old Country Road, in the Roosevelt Field Mall and just a few miles away in the Garden City mall. It's insanity.