J.C. Penney Co. is bringing back the catalog, but shoppers shouldn't expect one the size of a massive phone book.

The move comes after the department store chain retired the "big" book in 2010. About a year later, it stopped distributing its slew of smaller specialty catalogs that included outdoor living, kitchen electronics and home.

Penney says the new catalog will feature products from the home department and be distributed in March. It will be just 120 pages while Penney's "big" book was up to 1,000 pages thick. The move was first reported by The Wall Street Journal's online edition Monday.

"We're certainly not going back to a traditional big book catalog business, but we will be issuing a more robust home mailer," said Kate Coultas, a spokeswoman at J.C. Penney, in an email to the Associated Press. "It's a traffic-driving piece."

The strategy comes as Penney is recovering from a precipitous sales drop and hefty losses after a botched transformation under its former CEO Ron Johnson, who was fired in April 2013 after 17 months on the job. Mike Ullman returned to the helm that month to stabilize business and is looking at different ways to bring back shoppers. In October, the board appointed Marvin Ellison, a Home Depot executive, to succeed Ullman in August.

Like many retailers, Penney aims to cater to shoppers who are jumping back and forth between stores and websites. While catalogs are costly to publish, these books still resonate with mobile savvy shoppers.


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