There are very few things harder than turning around a struggling retail operation. Needless to say, a lot of things need to go right in order for customers to return to your store. No one knows this better than the management team of J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), as they are slowly but surely trying to mount a successful turnaround of their struggling department store. A department store, unlike a more focused retail store, hinges on the idea that it is the only place consumers need to shop. Not only can they purchase a new shirt or dress there, they can also purchase makeup, a new watch, new plates, and countless other products, all in the name of convenience at a reasonable price.

This concept is key to any department store's success, and, as Motley Fool consumer goods analyst Sean O'Reilly explains, one key metric contained within J.C. Penney's results can clue investors in to its turnaround and whether it is being successfully executed. 

Sean O'Reilly owns shares of J.C. Penney Company. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.