J.C. Penney Co. slashed first-quarter earnings projections to 50 cents a share, down from the 75 to 80 cents previously expected.

Turnover through Easter was “well below expectations,” said the company, adding that March comparable-store sales would drop by a percentage in the low-double digit range.

“Consumer confidence is at a multiyear low,” said Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd, chairman and chief executive officer. “J.C. Penney counts half of American families as its customers, and they are feeling macroeconomic pressures from many areas, including higher energy costs, deteriorating employment trends and significant issues in the housing and credit markets.”

For complete coverage, see Monday’s issue of WWD.