NEW YORK -- J.C. Penney is permanently marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40 percent so shoppers no longer have to wait for sales to get bargains.

Penney said Wednesday that it is getting rid of the hundreds of sales it offers each year in favor of a simpler approach to pricing. Starting Feb. 1, the retailer is rolling out an "Every Day" pricing strategy with much fewer sales throughout the year.

The plan, the first major move by former Apple executive Ron Johnson since he became Penney's CEO in November, is different from Wal-Mart's pricing. Unlike Wal-Mart, Penney's goal isn't to undercut competitors, but rather to offer customers more predictable pricing.

"Pricing is actually a pretty simple and straightforward thing," Johnson said. "Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product."

Penney's plan comes as stores are struggling to wean Americans off the profit-busting bargains that they have come to expect in the weak economy. The move is risky, though, because shoppers who love to bargain-hunt may be turned off by the absence of sales.

Walter Loeb, a retail consultant, said Penney's new pricing is "visionary" and "revolutionary." Charles Grom, a retail analyst at Deutsche Bank, said it will be difficult for Johnson to change shoppers' buying habits.

The strategy, unveiled at Penney's investor meeting Wednesday, comes as the retailer tries to turn around its business. Heavy discounting has hurt many department stores.

Here's how Penney's pricing strategy will work: