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A department store is a retail establishment which specializes in satisfying a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories. Department stores usually sell products including apparel, furniture, home appliances, electronics, and additionally select other lines of products such as paint, hardware, toiletries, cosmetics, photographic equipment, jewelery, toys, and sporting goods. Certain department stores are further classified as discount department stores. Discount department stores commonly have central customer checkout areas, generally in the front area of the store. Department stores are usually part of a retail chain of many stores situated around a country or several countries.


Bainbridge'smarker, in Newcastle upon Tynemarker, Englandmarker, Bainbridge (now John Lewis) in Newcastle upon Tyne, is the world’s oldest Department Store. It is still known to many of its customers as Bainbridge, despite the recent name change to 'John Lewis'. This much-loved Newcastle institution dates back to 1838 when Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge was aged 21 when he went into partnership with William Alder Dunn and opened a draper’s and fashion in Market Street, Newcastle.

In terms of retailing history, one of the most significant facts about the Newcastle Bainbridge shop, is that as early as 1849 weekly takings were recorded by department, making it the earliest of all department stores. This ledger survives and is kept in the John Lewis archives who bought the Bainbridge store in 1952.

John Lewis retained its original name of Bainbridge until 2002, when the store was rebranded as John Lewis Newcastle.

That it sorted goods out into Departments in 1849, three years before Le Bon Marche in Paris did the same, there is a strong case for Bainbridge being the world's original department store.

Aristide Boucicaut founded Le Bon Marchémarker in Parismarker in 1838, and by 1852 it offered a wide variety of goods in "departments" inside one building. Goods were sold at fixed prices, with guarantees allowing exchanges and refunds. By the end of the 19th century, Georges Dufayel, a French credit merchant, had served up to three million customers and was affiliated with La Samaritainemarker, a large French department store established in 1870 by a former Bon Marché executive.

As Le Bon Marché evolved into a department store in the early 1850s, Delany's New Mart opened in 1853 in Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker on Sackville Street (now O'Connell Streetmarker). What made Delany's different from most stores of its time was its purpose-built nature; unlike others it had not evolved gradually from a smaller shop on site. Constructed to a lavish standard on the city's principal street, it was designed to rival the biggest and best in Europe. Acquired by the Clery family in the late 19th century, both the store and Imperial Hotel located in its upper floors were completely destroyed in the 1916 Easter Rising. However the store reopened in 1922, this time across numerous floors, as the famous Clerys department store that stands today, housed in a striking modern neoclassical building based on Selfridges of London.

David Jones (Australia) was started by David Jones, a Welsh merchant who met Hobart businessman Charles Appleton in Londonmarker. Appleton had established a store in Sydney in 1825 and Jones subsequently established a partnership with Appleton, moved to Australia in 1835, and the Sydney store became known as Appleton & Jones. When the partnership was dissolved in 1838, Jones moved his business to premises on the corner of George Street and Barrack Lane, Sydney. Jones survived the depression of the 1840s, and by 1856 had retired from active management of the business. A few years later when the firm failed he returned to manage its affairs and in a few years had fully discharged all obligations to his creditors. By 1887, the George Street store had been rebuilt and a mail order facility introduced. A factory was opened in Marlborough Street, Sydney to reduce reliance on imported goods.David Jones also makes a claim to be the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name.

Lewis's (United Kingdommarker) may have been the first most progressive department store group. By 1956 it had the largest stores in the provinces of the UK and had brought the idea of department selling across the country. It started in Liverpool in 1856 and catered for all classes aiming to have the highest quality and lowest prices. David Lewis may have been the catalyst to making tea easily available to the working classes. (Lewis's 2/- tea). It did this by buying the tea direct from the shippers from its home in Liverpoolmarker and cutting out the middle man. Lewis's also experimented in new ways of advertising (such as flooding the basement of the Manchester store to create a mini Venice.) Its grottos always are well known through generations of people from Northern Britain.

Since 1856 it had stores in Manchestermarker (1877), Liverpoolmarker (1856), Birminghammarker , Glasgowmarker, Liverpoolmarker (The Bon Marche), Leedsmarker, Hanleymarker, Londonmarker (Selfridges),Bristolmarker and Leicestermarker . The group's first and final store, in Liverpool, went into administration in 2007 and was purchased as a going concern by Vergo Retail Limited. Enabling the store to continue trading under the Lewis's brand.

In New York Citymarker in 1846, Alexander Turney Stewart established the "Marble Palacemarker" on the east-Broadwaymarker, between Chambers and Reade streets. He offered European retail merchandise at fixed prices on a variety of dry goods, and advertised a policy of providing "free entrance" to all potential customers. Though it was clad in white marble to look like a Renaissance palazzo, the building's cast iron construction permitted large plate glass windows. In 1862 Stewart built a department store on a full city block at Broadway and 9th Street, opposite Grace Church, with eight floors and nineteen departments of dress goods and furnishing materials, carpets, glass and china, toys and sports equipment, ranged around a central glass-covered court. Within a couple of decades, New Yorkmarker's retail center had moved uptown, forming a stretch of retail shopping from "Marble Palace" that was called the "Ladies' Mile". In 1858 Rowland Hussey Macy founded Macy'smarker as a dry goods store. Benjamin Altman and Lord & Taylor soon competed with Stewart as New York's first department stores, later followed by "McCreary's" and, in Brooklynmarker, "Abraham & Straus." (The Straus family would be in the management of both Macy's and A&S.)

Similar developments were under way in Londonmarker (with Whiteleysmarker), in Parismarker (with La Samaritainemarker) and in Chicagomarker, where department stores sprang up along State Street, notably Marshall Field and Companymarker, which was the second-largest department store in the world prior to converting to Macy's. In 1877, Wanamaker'smarker opened in Philadelphiamarker. Philadelphia's John Wanamaker performed a 19th century redevelopment to the former Pennsylvania Railroad terminal in that city and eventually opened a modern day department store in the building.

On March 1, 1869 Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution was opened in Salt Lake Citymarker as a new community store that became the first incorporated department store in America in 1870. A new 3-story brick and iron store was built in 1876, noted for its unique architecture and striped awnings. This store was replaced by an enclosed shopping center in 1973, and the new Zion department store preserved the gilt-edged ornate facade of the old store. In 1999 the May Department Stores bought a 14-store ZCMI chain and changed its name to "Meier & Frank", a May property with eight stores in Oregonmarker and Washingtonmarker. Subsequently May Department Stores completed a merger with Federated Department Stores and the Meier & Frank brand ZCMI stores have become Macy'smarker stores, effective late 2006.

In 1881, Joseph Lowthian Hudson opened a small men's clothing store in Detroit. After 10 years he had 8 stores in the midwest and was the most profitable clothing retailer in the country. In 1893 he began construction of the immense department store at Gratiot and Farmer streets in Detroit. The 25-story tower was added in 1928, and a 12-story addition in 1946, giving the entire complex of floor space. In 1954 the company became a suburban shopping center pioneer when it built Northland northwest of Detroit. In 1969 it merged with the Dayton Corporation to create Dayton-Hudson headquartered in Minneapolis. George Dayton had founded his Dayton's Daylight store in Minneapolis in 1902 and the AMC cooperative in 1912, built the Southdale Shopping Center in 1956, and started the Target discount store chain in 1962. The new corporation closed the flagship Hudson department store in downtown Detroit in 1983, but expanded its other retail operations. It acquired Mervyn's in 1978, Marshall Field's in 1990, and renamed itself the Target Corporation in 2000.

By 1890 a new world of retailing had been created as department stores had a clear market position as universal providers. General stores eventually became department stores as small towns became cities. The most prominent department stores emerged from small shops. The department store created several of North America's first large businesses. The department store is also largely responsible for the standard store design seen today, because of its size it required new building materials, glass technology and new heating, amongst other architectural innovations. The store layouts made shopping easier for consumers regardless of their social or economic background. The department store also offered new customer services never before seen such as restaurants, restrooms, reading rooms, home delivery, wrapping services, store hours, bridal registries, new types of merchandise displays and so forth.

Some department stores leased space to individual merchants, similar to the changes in late 17th-century Londonmarker, but by 1900 the smaller merchants were purchased or eventually replaced by the larger companies. In this way they were very similar to our modern malls, where the property owner has no direct interest in the actual department store itself, other than to collect rent and provide utilities. Today only the most specialized departments are leased out, such as photography, photo finishing, automotive services or financial services. However, today this is rare, as most departments—even a store's restaurant—is usually run by the store itself.

Before the 1950s, the department store held an eminent place in both Canadamarker and Australia, during both the Great Depression and World War II. Since then, they have suffered from strong competition from specialist stores. Most recently the competition has intensified with the advent of larger-scale superstores (Jones et al. 1994; Merrilees and Miller 1997). Competition was not the only reason for the department stores' weakening strength; the changing structure of cities also affected them. The compact and centralized 19th century city with its mass transit lines converging on the downtown was a perfect environment for department store growth. But as residents moved out of the downtown areas to the suburbs, the large, downtown department stores became inconvenient and lost business to the newer suburban shopping malls. In 2003, U.S. department store sales were surpassed by big-box store sales for the first time.


In Buenos Aires, upscale department stores came during the early years of the 20th century. Gath & Chávez opened in 1905 and Harrodsmarker Buenos Airesmarker was established in 1912. Today, the Chileanmarker department store Falabella is one of the most prominent in the country, with branches in Buenos Aires, Córdobamarker, San Juanmarker, Mendozamarker, and Rosariomarker.

Although there were a number of department stores in Australia for much of the 20th Century, today Myer and David Jones, located nationally, are practically the national department stores duopoly in Australia. Other retail chain stores such as Target, Kmart and Big W, also located nationally, are considered to be Australia's discount department stores. Harris Scarfe (trading under the Allens brand in New South Wales and the ACT), though only operating in four states and one territory, is a department store using both the large full-line and small discount department store formats. Most department stores in Australia have their own credit card companies, each having their own benefits while the discount department stores do not have their own credit card rights.

From its origins in the fur trade, the Hudson's Bay Company is the largest department store operator in Canada, and the oldest corporation in North America, with locations across the country. It also owns Zellers, another major Canadian department store. Other department stores in Canada are: Sears Canada, Walmartmarker Canada, Canadian Tire and Holt Renfrew. Historically, department stores were a significant component in Canadian economic life, and chain stores such as Eaton's, Spencer's, and Woodward's were staples in their respective communities. Department stores in Canada are similar in design and style to department stores in the United States.

Albeit relatively small, the domestic Chileanmarker retail market has proved fiercely competitive with several department stores sprouting in Santiagomarker and then expanding north and south of the country. Leading department stores today include Falabella, Ripley, Almacenes París, La Polar, Sodimac, Johnson's, and Corona. Fallabella, founded in 1889, has opened branches in Argentina, Colombia, and Peru, with París -its main Chilean competitor- coming on its heels.

Department stores first appeared in Chinamarker at the beginning of the 20th Century, the concept said to be introduced by expatriate Chinese living in Australia. Before 1949, there were four main department stores in Shanghai: Wing On, Sincere, Sun Sun and Yat Sun; the first two still exist today.

During World War II patriotic sentiment in China had led to the formation of a number of department stores specializing in locally-made merchandise. These types of stores became the mainstay in China after the formation of the Communist statemarker in 1949.

Both types of department stores have long had branches in Hong Kongmarker; however Japanesemarker department stores began to appear in the 1960s, and within a generation's time became the dominant force in the market. The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s had resulted in the closures of some of these stores, but on the whole Hong Kong still has one of the world's most competitive retail markets.

Since the opening policy in 1979, the Chinese department stores also develops swiftly along with the fast growing economy. There are different department store groups dominate different areas of China, for example, INTIME department store has the biggest market presence in Zhejiang province, while Jinying department stores dominate Jiangsu Province. Besides, there are many other department store groups, such as Pacific,PARKSON,Wangfujing,New World,etc., many of them are expanding quickly by listing in the financial market.

The most famous department store chain in Cyprus is Debenhams (former Woolworths ).

In Denmark you find three department store chains: Magasin (1868), Illum (1891), Salling (1906).Magasin is by far the largest with 6 stores all over the country, with the flagship store being Magasin du Nord on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. Illums only store on Amagertorv in Copenhagen has the appearance of a department store with 20% run by Magasin, but has individual shopowners making it a shopping centre. But in peoples mind it remains a department store.Salling has two stores in Jutland with one of these being the reason for the closure of a magasin store due to the competition.

The most famous department store chains in Finland are Stockmann, a listed company, and Sokos, owned by a nationwide retailing cooperative. The Stockmann department storemarker in central Helsinkimarker is the biggest department store in the entire Nordic countries and a famous landmark of Helsinki.

France's major upscale department stores are Galeries Lafayettemarker and Le Printempsmarker, which both have flagship stores on Boulevard Haussmannmarker in Parismarker and branches around the country. The oldest department store in Francemarker (and in the world) is Le Bon Marchémarker in Parismarker, owned by the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. La Samaritainemarker, another upscale department store also owned by LVMH, closed in 2005. Mid-range department stores chains also exist in France such as the BHV (Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville), part of the same group as Galeries Lafayettemarker.

In Germany there are a number of department stores. There are three big department store companies, Karstadt (part of Arcandor AG, also operating the KaDeWemarker and two Wertheim department stores in Berlin and the Alsterhaus in Hamburg), Hertie and Kaufhof (part of the Metro AG). There are also some smaller independent department stores. Some department stores only sell clothing. The biggest clothing department store chain is C&A. Larger department stores in Germany usually contain a self-service restaurant, clothing departments, a toy department, a department for computer and electronics, a small book department (for bestsellers), a department for newspapers and magazines and a food department (like a supermarket).

One of the most famous department stores in Germany is the Kaufhaus des Westensmarker (KaDeWe, German for "department store of the west") which is located in Berlinmarker.

Indonesia's largest department store chain is Ramayana with over ninety branches across the country. The same group also operates under Robinsons, all targeting the lower income sectors. Other local department store is Matahari, now owned by Lippo Group. The group previously managed to trade under Mega M, Galeriamarker, JC Penney, Parisian and Walmartmarker brands, all of which have been progressively closed. The middle up segment is mainly occupied by Metro Department Store originated from Singapore and Sogo. In 2007 saw the re-opening of Jakarta's Seibu, poised to be the largest and second most upscale department store in Indonesia after Harvey Nichols, which will be opened in 2008 at the same shopping centre, the Grand Indonesiamarker Shopping Town. Other international department stores include Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, Seibu and Sogo are all operated by PT. Mitra Adiperkasa.

Iran's largest and newest department store chain is Shahrvand with fourteen stores, all located in Tehranmarker. The other chains are ROLEX and TANDIS which have stores throughout the country.

Originally the Republic of Irelandmarker had two department stores, Clerys and Arnotts, the latter considered to be one of the five largest stores in Britain and Ireland. However, several large retailers now own chains of department stores, such as: The most upmarket chain is undoubtedly Brown Thomas, founded as a haberdasher's in 1849 on Dublin's Grafton Street. The company (which belongs to the same group as the UK's Selfridges or Canada's Holt Renfrew) bought its long time competitor across the street, Switzers, in 1995. BT then moved to the larger site. It also acquired and re-branded the former Switzer stores in Cork (formerly Cash's), Limerick (formerly Todd's) and Galway (formerly Moon's).

There are also many self-owned department stores around the country, especially in rural towns.

The British department store, Debenhams, purchased the Roches Stores chain in 2006, closed two stores and rebranded the others. The opening of Dundrum Town Centremarker in Dublin's suburbs saw the arrival of two more British stores, House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols.

Some of the largest department stores in Japan include Daimaru (J. Front Retailing), Hankyu (H2O Retailing), Hanshin (H2O Retailing), Isetan (Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings), Marui, Matsuzakaya (J. Front Retailing), Matsuya, Mitsukoshi (Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings), Printempsmarker Ginza, Seibu (Millennium Retailing), Sogo (Millennium Retailing), Takashimaya, Tobu, and Tokyu (109). Many are owned and operated in conjunction with private railway companies. Recently, business integration has been successive.

The most well-known department store in Kuwaitmarker is Villa Moda

Department stores in Lebanon include ABC Groupmarker, Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, The Sultan Center, Aïshti and Spinneys.

In Malaysia, companies such as AEON Jusco, Parkson, Metrojaya, The Store, Isetan and Sogo are considered department stores, while retail brands such as Tesco, Giant and Carrefour are discount department stores combines supermarket.

Mexico has a number of department stores, including the Mexican chains Liverpool, El Palacio de Hierro, Suburbia, Sanborns, Sears Mexico, Saks 5th Avenue and Dorian´s. There are also foreign stores such as JCPenney

The most well-known department stores in The Netherlands are De Bijenkorf, HEMA, Maison de Bonneterie and Vroom & Dreesmann.

In New Zealand, the most prominent chains are The Warehouse, Farmers and Kmart, but these are largely seen to be discount chains. There are more upmarket department stores located regionally, such as Smith & Caugheys in Aucklandmarker, Kirkcaldie & Stains in Wellington, and Ballantynes in Christchurchmarker.

Panama's first department stores such as Bazaar Francés, La Dalia and La Villa de Paris started as textile retailers at the turn of the nineteenth century. Later on in the twentieth century these eventually gave way to stores such as Felix B. Maduro, Sarah Panamá, Figali, Danté, Sears, Gran Morrison and smaller ones such as Bon Bini, Cocos, El Lider, Piccolo and Clubman among others. Of these only Felix B. Maduro (usually referred to as Felix by locals) and Danté remain strong. All the others have either folded or declined although Cocos has managed to secure a good position in the market. Today major department stores aside from these two include Steven's and Collin's. There are also many discount department stores such as Conway which includes a furniture and decoration department named Conway Design, La Onda, Dorian's, Saks, Madison Store and El Titan among others.

One of the first department stores in the Philippines were located in Metro Manila and established by SM Prime Holdings and Rustan's . Since it’s debut in the 1950s, they now hold more than 100 department stores to date. At present, due to the huge success of shopping malls, department stores in the Philippines usually serve as part of an anchor tenant insid. SM Supermalls and Robinsons Malls are two of the country's most prominent mall chains, all of which has Department Store sections.

Currently Portugal has only two department stores, both operated by El Corte Inglés, one in Lisbon Metropolitan Area, other in Porto Metropolitan Area. This small number of department stores can be explained by the wide spread presence throughout the country of shopping malls and supermarket chains like Modelo, owned by Sonae, Intermarche and Pingo Doce owned by Jeronimo Martins which are more akin to the local taste.

The most popular department stores in Thailandmarker are Central Department Store which are managed by Central Group. These are the list of department stores in Thailandmarker

Arguably the most famous Department store in Russia is the GUMmarker in Moscowmarker, Central Universal Storemarker (TsUM) or the Petrovsky Passagemarker. Other popular stores are Mega (shopping malls), Stockmann, Marks & Spencer. Media Markt, M-video, Technosila, White Wind (Beliy Veter) sell large number of electronic devices. In Saint Petersburgmarker The Passagemarker has been popular since the 1840s.

Most department stores are clustered around Orchard Roadmarker in Singaporemarker. The most well-known department stores in Singapore are BHG (formally known as Seiyu), Isetan, John Little, Marks & Spencer, Metro, Mustafa, OG, Robinson & Co., Takashimaya and Tangs. Some of their branch outlets can also be found in the sub-urban shopping malls.

The three most prevalent chains are Hyundai, Lotte, and Shinsegae, which opened in 1930 as Mitsukoshi Gyeongseong store and is the oldest department store chain.Lotte is the largest, operating more than 20 stores. TheSeoul Sampoongmarker department store collapsed in 1995 during shopping hours and many people died.Shinsegae Centum City in Haeundae-gu, Busanmarker is the world's largest department store.

Following the 2002 closure by the Australian group Partridges of their SEPU (Sociedad Española de Precios Unicos) department store chain, which in fact was Spain's oldest, the market is now dominated by El Corte Inglés, founded in 1934 as a drapery store. El Corte Inglés stores tend to be vast buildings, selling a very broad range of products and the group also controls a number of other retail formats including supermarket chain 'Supercor' and hypermarket chain 'Hipercor'. Other competitors such as 'Simago' and 'Galerías Preciados' closed in the 1990s, however El Corte Inglés, faces major competition from French discount operators such as Carrefour and Auchan.

The largest department store chain in Sweden is Åhléns, which operates stores throughout the country. Its flagship Stockholmmarker store, Åhléns City, is the largest department store in Sweden. Other large stores are Nordiska Kompanietmarker in Stockholm and Gothenburgmarker, and PUBmarker in Stockholm.

The Swiss retail market is dominated by two consumers' cooperatives, Migros and Coop, which also run department stores. Migros operates 12 upscale Globus department stores and 34 mid-range Migros MMM centers across the country. Since the acquisitions of EPA in 2002, Coop operates its mid-range department stores under the brand Coop City. Manor operates department stores throughout the country. Jelmoli and Loeb operate upscale department stores in Zurich and Bernemarker respectively.

Most of the early department stores in Londonmarker started out as small drapery stores which bought up neighbouring stores and increased their range of products.

The exterior of Harrods in London.
  • Whiteleysmarker in Westbourne Grovemarker was first to grow to department store size. By 1867 it consisted of 17 departments and by 1890 it was operating in a purposely built department store and had over 6,000 staff employed in the business.
  • Barkers in Kensingtonmarker can be defined as a department store by 1880, when it encompassed 15 neighbouring stores, and in 1889 the company moved into a new, large building. This was eventually taken over by House of Fraser and closed for business in 2006.
  • Peter Jonesmarker in Sloane Squaremarker had grown to department store size by 1890.
  • Harrodsmarker was reborn as a proper department store in 1889, after a devastating fire in 1883.
  • John Lewis
  • Selfridges was opened in 1909 by the American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, and thus became London's seventh department store.
  • House of Fraser owns and operates several department stores across the UK.
  • Harvey Nichols of Sloane Street, Knightsbridge is Harrods' closest competitor.
  • Debenhams is one of the UK's most popular department stores.

However, Kendalsmarker in Manchester can lay claim to being the oldest department store in the UK and perhaps in the world. Beginning as a small shop owned by S. and J. Watts in 1796, its sold a variety of goods. Kendal Milne and Faulkner purchased the business in 1835. Expanding the space, rather than use it as a typical warehouse simply to showcase textiles, it became a vast bazaar. Serving Manchester's upmarket clientel for over 200 years, it was recently purchased by the House of Fraser - although most Mancunians still refer to it as Kendals.

In Edinburghmarker, Jennersmarker saw a similar development. It starting as a drapery store in 1838, which by 1890 had grown into Scotland's largest retail store by gobbling up all the small stores in the neighbourhood. In 1895, after a devastating fire, a new ultra-modern building opened, with lavish electrical lighting, hydraulic lifts and air conditioning. Four hours after the grand opening, 25,000 people had already visited the store.

In the UKmarker the term "department store" still refers to the traditional, classic department store, which has a wide range of independent departments with their own staff and their own till. Large discount stores with the tills located by the entrance are not regarded as department stores in the UK, although the owners may call them that. Such stores as Marks & Spencer, Britain's largest clothes retailer would therefore not be included in the British definition of a department store.

In the United Statesmarker, companies such as Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrommarker, Lord & Taylor, Macy'smarker, Dillard's, JC Penney, and Sears are considered department stores, while retail brands such as Target, Kmart, and Wal-Martmarker are discount department stores. T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Burlington Coat Factory are stores that sell designer goods at lower prices. Stores that carry a general line of groceries and other product lines similar to those of department stores are considered warehouse clubs or supercenters. Warehouse clubs require a nominal annual membership fee, while supercenters do not. Costco, BJ's Wholesale Club, and Sam's Club are examples of warehouse clubs.

Types of department stores

Upscale department store

Characteristics of a typical upscale department store may include:
  • Sale of brand name perfumes and beauty supplies, like Burberry, Calvin Klein or M•A•C at the main entrance, with specialists in cosmetics there to assist customers with applying and selecting makeup.
  • General sale of name brand clothes above an average price level, such as Dior, Chanel, Versace, Lacoste, etc.
  • When items are discounted, the price resembles that of an average priced item at a lower scale department store.
  • Sale of small household appliances like blenders, or small electronic items such as portable radios.
  • Specialized services or subset businesses such as personal shopping assistance, salons, restaurants, and/or travel agencies.

Some upscale department stores that operate in the United States include national chains like Barneys New York, Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrommarker, and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as regional retailers such as Bergdorf Goodmanmarker, Halls and Von Maur. In the United Kingdom, department stores making up the high-end include Harvey Nichols, Harrodsmarker and Fortnum and Masonmarker. In Indonesia, the most upscale department stores includes Sogo and Seibu from Japan, Debenhams and Harvey Nichols from United Kingdom (all managed by PT. Mitra Adiperkasa Tbk.) In Australia, the two main upscale department stores are David Jones and Myer.

Mid-range department store

Characteristics of a mid-range department store may include:
  • Sale of cosmetics.
  • Sale of some brand names, with greater emphasis on private label brands.
  • Sale of accessories.
  • Sale of some small household appliances.
  • Sale of furniture in larger locations.

Comparison to upscale department store

  • Sale of cosmetics but generally not brand name. Fragrances and beauty supplies may be placed further into the interior of the store, without cosmetic specialists at the counters.
  • Greater proportion of moderately-priced brand names.
  • Accessories and purses aren't upscale brand names, with greater proportion of lesser-known or private label branded items.

Mid-range department stores that operate in the United States include national chains JCPenney and Kohl's. Regional chains such as Gottschalks in the western United States and The Bon-Ton and associated stores in the northern part of the country are also among this grouping of stores.

As noted in details of upscale department stores, Macy's, Dillard's and Belk vary in price points and relative consideration as upscale or mid-range versus local competitors, depending upon location. Some larger locations in affluent areas often carry significant selections of brand name products including brand name accessories and fragrances kept in glass cases, and usually have cosmetic specialists in the beauty department. Brands at above-average price points, if offered at all, are generally limited and full product lines of such brands are not typically available. Smaller and more remote store locations — often, the legacy of acquisitions of smaller retailers — may concentrate squarely on moderately-priced merchandise. Californiamarker-based Gottschalks mirrors these chains, though in a specific region with little presence in major metropolitan areas. Macy's are typically the anchors of upscale malls and are situated among other high-end department stores such as Tysons Galleriamarker or The Domainmarker in Austin. Nationally known JCPenney has incorporated elements of upscale stores such as salons and custom home decorating services, along with offering optical shops, portrait photography studios and designer-produced private labels.

The national chain Sears is also in this category, but often is considered a lower grade mid-range department store due to marketing a higher proportion of private label and lesser-known label goods in apparel and housewares segments. Sears differs from most mid-range department store chains in its common inclusion of departments for hardware, garden and outdoor equipment, automotive service, and large appliances and electronics — product segments more typical of discount or so-called "big box" retailers.

Discount department store/super-store

  • Sells cosmetics, generally not name brand.
  • Generally doesn't sell name brands.
  • Sells accessories, generally not name brand.
  • Sells small household appliances.
  • Sells toys, electronics and video games.
  • Sells household necessities.
  • The "super-store" variant usually sells food products and has a "one stop shop" vibe.

Comparison to mid-range department stores

  • Sells fewer major brand names.
  • Offers a wider variety of products.
  • More likely to anchor a power centre than an indoor shopping mall.

Some discount department stores that operate in the United States include: Shopko, Kmart and Wal-Martmarker. Although Shopko and Kmart are more upscale than Wal-Mart; further, Wal-Mart could be considered a "super discount department store". Target is also in this category but may be considered a more upscale Discount Department Store because it puts a greater emphasis on current fashion and on special merchandise lines from well-known designers such as Isaac Mizrahi and Thomas O'Brien.

Off-price retailer

  • Most products are name-branded.
  • Products may be over-runs, seconds, or last season's stock liquidated from department stores.
  • Product mix typically emphasizes women's clothing and may include men's clothing, children's clothing, shoes, accessories, perfume, toys, housewares, or packaged gourmet food.
  • Stores are most frequently located in power centres but may also appear in shopping malls.

Off-price retail department stores include T.J. Maxx, Factory 2-U, Century 21, Gabriel Brothers, Ross Dress For Less, Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, and SYMS. TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx, has been experimenting with HomeGoods superstores that carry a larger range and variety of housewares, including furniture.

See also


  1. Brigg's, Asa: Friends of the people (The Centenary History of LEWIS'S); 1956
  2. Shopping at Downtown Crossing Radio Boston, 14 Aug 2009.
  3. About Home Goods Retrieved June 16, 2007

  • Abelson, Elaine S. When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Barth, Gunther. "The Department Store," in City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Benson, Susan Porter. Counter Culture: Saleswomen, Managers and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1988. ISBN 0-252-06013-X.
  • Ershkowicz, Herbert. John Wanamaker, Philadelphia Merchant. New York: DaCapo Press, 1999.
  • Gibbons, Herbert Adams. John Wanamaker. New York: Harper & Row, 1926.
  • Hendrickson, Robert. The Grand Emporiums: The Illustrated History of America's Great Department Stores. New York: Stein and Day, 1979.
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  • Parker, K. (2003). "Sign Consumption in the 19th-Century Department Store: An Examination of Visual Merchandising in the Grand Emporiums (1846 – 1900)." Journal of Sociology 39 (4): 353–371.
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  • Spang, Rebecca L. The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. 325 p.
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External links

Under One Roof The death and life of the New York department Adam Gopnik ]

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