In Reuters story on Friday discussing JC Penney's major third quarter loss, numbers were utilized both clearly and effectively. The write used numbers in multiple ways, to compare loss percentages with expected loss, to describe share holder's percentages, to report on sales per square foot, elaborate on time-frames and quantities, and to describe shareholders stakes in both percentage form and dollar amounts. Even with all the hefty information the numbers are used to explain, as a novice business news reader, I was easily able to follow the writer's way of reporting the numbers.
First, the author's lead explains what the numbers mean without actually overwhelming the lead with numbers. By explaining that sales have decreased significantly more than expected, by the time a reader sees the decrease of 26.1 percent compared to the expected decrease of 17.9 percent, it is easy to see how significant that is. By using percentages rather than dollar figures is also helpful in this instance because many readers wouldn't be able to interpret for themselves the dollar amount that would have a significant impact on sales for such a large company.
The numbers I found most interesting were the explanations of sales per square foot. The difference in sales per square foot in the same stores over different departments really added to the emphasize the writer was trying to put on the success Penney's has had. Although the company's sales were dismal, some progress has been made in the retail revamp.
Stocks are something that can be extremely confusing. The reporter of this story was able to incorporate them successfully by using both the percent the stocks fell as well as the dollar amount. By concluding the story with a look back at the sales percent loss, the reporter was able to incorporate the actual dollar figure there. This was a smart placement because readers who have stuck with the story until the end may be better able to digest and interpret that number now that they have the full context of how much sales have dropped.
The numbers the reported gathered came from JC Penney Co. Chief Executive Ron Johnson released and elaborated on some of the numbers and stock change for the company is publicly available. The reporter was able to compare all of JC Penney's third quarter reporting with analysts' estimations and past sales to determine the percentage it had dropped.