NEW YORK — Talk about a comeback.

J.C. Penney reported a 3.9 percent increase in comparable-store sales during the holiday.

It was a reversal of fortunes this crucial selling season, with the usually resilient Macy’s reporting late Wednesday that sales in stores open at least a year slumped 5.2 percent between November and December. Macy’s is now cutting up to 4,800 jobs, reorganizing operations and closing 40 stores. It also slashed its profit outlook.

Macy’s estimated that 80 percent of its decline was weather-related. J.C. Penney said warm weather did cut into clothing sales but there were other strong sellers that offset that weakness.

Gap reported sales for December that showed its continued struggles. The San Francisco-based chain, which operates stores under its namesake, Old Navy and Banana Republic, registered a 5 percent drop in revenue at stores opened at least a year. The declines were across all divisions, including Old Navy, which has recently been a bright spot for the company.

Marvin Ellison, who took over as J.C. Penney CEO in August, said the company strived to improve its online business. It now has 250 stores that are helping to fulfill online orders as it plays catch-up to other retailers. It also focused on store-label brands and improved its selection of gifts for the holidays.

Those were strong numbers for the Plano, Texas, retailer, which is nearly three years into a turnaround effort after a disastrous attempt to reinvent the brand under former Apple executive Ron Johnson. The changes put into place under Johnson resulted in massive losses and plummeting sales.

Still, J.C. Penney has a long way to go before it can claim a full recovery. The company is expected to post annual revenue of $12.6 billion for this fiscal year, up nearly 3 percent from the previous year, but far from the nearly $18 billion in annual revenue the company once booked.


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