By Michelle Graff
Plano, Texas--Same-store sales increased 3 percent year-over-year in the all-important months of November and December, struggling retailer J.C. Penney reported Tuesday. 

Categories the retailer list as top performers during the holiday season were beauty (Sephora), activewear, sweaters, outerwear, dresses, boots, men’s clothing, luggage and housewares. Fine jewelry was not noted among the top sellers for the Plano-based retailer. 

For the full quarter, comparable sales, which exclude the 53rd week of fiscal 2012, rose approximately 2 percent, marking the first positive quarterly result for J.C. Penney since the second quarter 2011. 

In addition, fourth quarter online sales were up 26 percent year-over-year and the company closed fiscal year 2013 with more than $2 billion in available liquidity. 

CEO Myron Ullman III said the steady improvements in the business show that the company’s turnaround is “on track,” though the retailer’s attempt to return to profitability is not coming without cuts. Last month, J.C. Penney announced plans to lay off 2,000 employees and close 33 stores across the country, a move that will save the retailer an estimated $65 million per year.

“In spite of the significant headwinds facing all retailers this season, including unprecedented harsh weather conditions in many parts of the country, we delivered on our promise to generate positive comparable store sales growth in the fourth quarter,” Ullman said. “As we look ahead to 2014, our associates are encouraged by the company’s results and we remain steadfast in our focus to build on these achievements and return to profitable growth.”

J.C. Penney will announce its fourth quarter and full year 2013 results on Feb. 26.  

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