A department store is a retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different product categories known as "departments". In modern major cities, the department store made a dramatic appearance in the middle of the 19th century, and permanently reshaped shopping habits, and the definition of service and luxury. Similar developments were under way in London (with Whiteleys), in Paris (Le Bon Marché in 1852) and in New York (with Stewart's).
Today, departments often include the following: clothing, furniture, home appliances, toys, cosmetics, houseware, gardening, toiletries, sporting goods, do it yourself, paint, and hardware. Additionally, other lines of products such as food, books, jewelry, electronics, stationery, photographic equipment, baby products, and products for pets are sometimes included. Customers generally check out near the front of the store, although some stores include sales counters within each department. Some stores are one of many within a larger retail chain, while others are independent retailers. In the 1970s, they came under heavy pressure from discounters, and have come under even heavier pressure from e-commerce sites such as Amazon since 2010. Big-box stores, hypermarkets, and discount stores are comparable to historical department stores. Before shopping centres, department stores were standalone.
The origins of the department store lay in the growth of the conspicuous consumer society at the turn of the 19th century. As the Industrial Revolution accelerated economy expansion, the affluent middle-class grew in size and wealth. Urbanized social groups, sharing a culture of consumption and changing fashions, were the catalyst for the retail revolution. As rising prosperity and social mobility increased the number of people, especially women (who found they could shop unaccompanied at department stores without damaging their reputation), with disposable income in the late Georgian period, window shopping was transformed into a leisure activity and entrepreneurs, like the potter Josiah Wedgwood, pioneered the use of marketing techniques to influence the prevailing tastes and preferences of society. Department stores also often featured post services, childcare services, restaurants and other services that appealed to female shoppers.
One of the first department stores may have been Bennett's in Derby, first established as an ironmonger (hardware shop) in 1734. It still stands to this day, trading in the same building. However, the first reliably dated department store to be established, was Harding, Howell & Co, which opened in 1796 on Pall Mall, London. An observer writing in Ackermann's Repository, a British periodical on contemporary taste and fashion, described the enterprise in 1809 as follows:
The house is one hundred and fifty feet in length from front to back, and of proportionate width. It is fitted up with great taste, and is divided by glazed partitions into four departments, for the various branches of the extensive business, which is there carried on. Immediately at the entrance is the first department, which is exclusively appropriated to the sale of furs and fans. The second contains articles of haberdashery of every description, silks, muslins, lace, gloves, &etc. In the third shop, on the right, you meet with a rich assortment of jewelry, ornamental articles in ormolu, french clocks, &etc.; and on the left, with all the different kinds of perfumery necessary for the toilette. The fourth is set apart for millinery and dresses; so that there is no article of female attire or decoration, but what may be here procured in the first style of elegance and fashion. This concern has been conducted for the last twelve years by the present proprietors who have spared neither trouble nor expense to ensure the establishment of a superiority over every other in Europe, and to render it perfectly unique in its kind.
This venture is described as having all of the basic characteristics of the department store; it was a public retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different departments. This pioneering shop was closed down in 1820 when the business partnership was dissolved. All the major British cities had flourishing department stores by the mid-or late nineteenth century. Increasingly, women became the major shoppers and middle-class households. Kendals (formerly Kendal Milne & Faulkner) in Manchester lays claim to being one of the first department stores and is still known to many of its customers as Kendal's, despite its 2005 name change to House of Fraser. The Manchester institution dates back to 1836 but had been trading as Watts Bazaar since 1796. At its zenith the store had buildings on both sides of Deansgate linked by a subterranean passage "Kendals Arcade" and an art nouveau tiled food hall. The store was especially known for its emphasis on quality and style over low prices giving it the nickname "the Harrods of the North", although this was due in part to Harrods acquiring the store in 1919. Other large Manchester stores included Paulden's (currently Debenhams) and Lewis's (now a Primark).
The Harrods business in London can be traced back to 1834, while the current store on Brompton Road on a site they acquired in 1849, was constructed between 1894 and 1905. Gamages was founded in London's High Holborn by Arthur Walter Gamage in 1878.
Bainbridge's (now owned by John Lewis) dates back to 1838, when Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge went into partnership with William Alder Dunn and opened a drapers and fashion shop in Newcastle's Market Street. In 1849 there were 23 separate departments, with weekly takings recorded by department, making it the first proper department store in the world. This ledger survives and is now kept in the archives of the John Lewis Partnership.
By 1900, London, Glasgow and Liverpool were the three largest shopping centres in the country. The company Lewis's started in Liverpool in 1856 and experimented with new ways of advertising (such as flooding the basement of the Manchester store to create a mini Venice.) Lewis's built up the largest chain of stores in the country, opening branches in Manchester (1877), Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Hanley, London, Blackpool, Bristol and Leicester.
Selfridges was established in 1909 by American-born Harry Gordon Selfridge on Oxford Street. The company's innovative marketing promoted the radical notion of shopping for pleasure rather than necessity and its techniques were adopted by modern department stores the world over. The store was extensively promoted through paid advertising. The shop floors were structured so that goods could be made more accessible to customers. There were elegant restaurants with modest prices, a library, reading and writing rooms, special reception rooms for French, German, American and "Colonial" customers, a First Aid Room, and a Silence Room, with soft lights, deep chairs, and double-glazing, all intended to keep customers in the store as long as possible. Staff members were taught to be on hand to assist customers, but not too aggressively, and to sell the merchandise. Selfridge attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits; in 1909, Louis Blériot's monoplane was exhibited at Selfridges (Blériot was the first to fly over the English Channel), and the first public demonstration of television by John Logie Baird took place in the department store in 1925.
In Scotland, Jenners was founded by Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington and has maintained its position on Edinburgh's Princes Street since 1838. It lays claim to being the oldest independent department store in Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, Austin's in Derry, was established as a department store in 1830, and according to some claims was the world's first department store. The domineering building measured 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) and was five stories high with an Edwardian-style exterior.
The Paris department store had its roots in the magasin de nouveautés, or novelty store; the first, the Tapis Rouge, was created in 1784. They flourished in the early 19th century, with La Belle Jardiniere (1824), Aux Trois Quartiers (1829), and Le Petit Saint Thomas (1830). Balzac described their functioning in his novel César Birotteau. In the 1840s, with the arrival of the railroads in Paris and the increased number of shoppers they brought, they grew in size, and began to have large plate glass display windows, fixed prices and price tags, and advertising in newspapers.
A novelty shop called Au Bon Marché had been founded in Paris in 1838 to sell lace, ribbons, sheets, mattresses, buttons, umbrellas and other assorted goods. It originally had four departments, twelve employees, and a floor space of three hundred meters. The entrepreneur Aristide Boucicaut became a partner in 1852, and changed the marketing plan, instituting fixed prices and guarantees that allowed exchanges and refunds, advertising, and a much wider variety of merchandise. The annual income of the store increased from 500,000 francs in 1852 to five million in 1860. In 1869 he built much larger building at 24 rue de Sèvres on the Left Bank, and enlarged the store again in 1872, with help from the engineering firm of Gustave Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. The income rose from twenty million francs in 1870 to 72 million at the time of the Boucicaut's death in 1877. The floor space had increased from three hundred square meters in 1838 to fifty thousand, and the number of employees had increased from twelve in 1838 to 1788 in 1879. Boucicaut was famous for his marketing innovations; a reading room for husbands while their wives shopped; extensive newspaper advertising; entertainment for children; and six million catalogs sent out to customers. By 1880 half the employees were women; unmarried women employees lived in dormitories on the upper floors.
Au Bon Marché soon had competitors. Printemps was founded in 1865; La Samaritaine was founded in 1869 by Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jay, a new Tapis Rouge in 1867, La Ville de Saint-Denis, with the first elevator in France (1869); La Paix; Les Nouvelles Galeries; Les Magasins Dufayel (1890); the Bazaar de Hotel de Ville (BHV); and Galeries Lafayette, founded by Alphonse Kahn in 1895.
The French gloried in the national prestige brought by the great Parisian stores. The great writer Émile Zola (1840–1902) set his novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1882–83) in the typical department store. Zola represented it as a symbol of the new technology that was both improving society and devouring it. The novel describes merchandising, management techniques, marketing, and consumerism.
The Grands Magasins Dufayel was a huge department store with inexpensive prices built in 1890 in the northern part of Paris, where it reached a very large new customer base in the working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It educated workers to approach shopping as an exciting social activity not just a routine exercise in obtaining necessities, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in the central city. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a business transaction into a direct relationship between consumer and sought-after goods. Its advertisements promised the opportunity to participate in the newest, most fashionable consumerism at reasonable cost. The latest technology was featured, such as cinemas and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines (that could be used to fit shoes) and the gramophone.
Increasingly after 1870 the stores' work force became feminized, opening up prestigious job opportunities for young women. Despite the low pay and long hours they enjoyed the exciting complex interactions with the newest and most fashionable merchandise and upscale customers.
By the 21st century, the grand Paris department stores had difficulty surviving in the new economic world. In 2015, just four remained; Au Bon Marché, now owned by the luxury goods firm LVMH; BHV; Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
Arnold Constable was the first American department store. It was founded in 1825 by Aaron Arnold (1794?–1876), an emigrant from Great Britain, as a small dry goods store on Pine Street in New York City. In 1857 the store moved into a five-story white marble dry goods palace known as the Marble House. During the Civil War, Arnold Constable was one of the first stores to issue charge bills of credit to its customers each month instead of on a bi-annual basis. Recognized as an emporium for high-quality fashions, the store soon outgrew the Marble House and erected a cast-iron building on Broadway and Nineteenth Street in 1869; this “Palace of Trade” expanded over the years until it was necessary to move into a larger space in 1914. In 1925, Arnold, Constable merged with Stewart & Company and expanded into the suburbs, first with a 1937 store in New Rochelle, New York and later in Hempstead and Manhasset on Long Island, and in New Jersey. Financial problems led to bankruptcy in 1975.
In New York City in 1846, Alexander Turney Stewart established the "Marble Palace" on Broadway, 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 that permitted major seasonal displays, especially in the Christmas shopping season. In 1862, Stewart built a new store on a full city block 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. His innovations included buying from manufacturers for cash and in large quantities, keeping his markup small and prices low, truthful presentation of merchandise, the one-price policy (so there was no haggling), simple merchandise returns and cash refund policy, selling for cash and not credit, buyers who searched worldwide for quality merchandise, departmentalization, vertical and horizontal integration, volume sales, and free services for customers such as waiting rooms and free delivery of purchases. His innovations were quickly copied by other department stores.
In 1858, Rowland Hussey Macy founded Macy's as a dry goods store. Benjamin Altman and Lord & Taylor soon competed with Stewart as New York's earliest department stores, later followed by "McCreary's" and, in Brooklyn, "Abraham & Straus." (The Straus family would be in the management of both Macy's and A&S.)
By the 1880s New York's retail center had moved uptown, forming a stretch of retail shopping from "Marble Palace" that was called the "Ladies' Mile". By 1894, the major stores competed in the Christmas season with elaborate Christmas window displays; in 1895 Macy's featured 13 tableaux, including scenes from "Jack and the Beanstalk", Gulliver's Travels and other children's favorites.
In 1877, John Wanamaker opened the United States' first modern department store in a former Pennsylvania Railroad freight terminal in Philadelphia. Wanamakers was the first department store to offer fixed prices marked on every article and also introduced electrical illumination (1878), the telephone (1879), and the use of pneumatic tubes to transport cash and documents (1880) to the department store business. Subsequent department stores founded in Philadelphia included Strawbridge and Clothier, Gimbels, Lit Brothers, and Snellenbergs.
Marshall Field & Company originated in 1852. It was the premier department store on the main shopping street in the Midwest, State Street in Chicago. Upscale shoppers came by train from throughout the region, patronizing nearby hotels. It grew to become a major chain before converting to the Macy's nameplate on 9 September 2006. Marshall Field's served as a model for other department stores in that it had exceptional customer service. Field's also brought with it the now famous Frango mints brand that became so closely identified with Marshall Field's and Chicago from the now defunct Frederick & Nelson Department store. Marshall Field's also had the firsts; among many innovations by Marshall Field's were the first European buying office, which was located in Manchester, England, and the first bridal registry. The company was the first to introduce the concept of the personal shopper, and that service was provided without charge in every Field's store, until the chain's last days under the Marshall Field's name. It was the first store to offer revolving credit and the first department store to use escalators. Marshall Field's book department in the State Street store was legendary; it pioneered the concept of the "book signing". Moreover, every year at Christmas, Marshall Field's downtown store windows were filled with animated displays as part of the downtown shopping district display; the "theme" window displays became famous for their ingenuity and beauty, and visiting the Marshall Field's windows at Christmas became a tradition for Chicagoans and visitors alike, as popular a local practice as visiting the Walnut Room with its equally famous Christmas tree or meeting "under the clock" on State Street.
The Carson Pirie Scott brand is strongly associated with the historic Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building designed by Louis Sullivan. It was built in 1899 for the retail firm Schlesinger & Mayer, and expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott in 1904. The building, located on State Street in Chicago's Loop, housed the chain's flagship store for more than a century before closing for good in 2007. Target now occupies the building.
In Buenos Aires, upscale department stores came during the early years of the 20th century. Gath & Chávez opened in 1905 and Harrods Buenos Aires was established in 1912. Today, the Chilean department store Falabella is one of the most prominent in the country, with branches in Buenos Aires, Córdoba, San Juan, Mendoza, and Rosario. Falabella is one of the most popular stores in Argentina today.
David Jones was started by David Jones, a Welsh merchant who met Hobart businessman Charles Appleton in London. Appleton 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. David Jones claims to be the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name.
Although there were a number of department stores in Australia for much of the 20th Century, including chains such as Grace Bros. and Waltons, many disappeared during the 1980s and 1990s. Today Myer, David Jones and Harris Scarfe, located nationally, are practically the national department stores oligopoly in Australia. When Russian-born migrant, Sidney Myer, came to Australia in 1899 he formed the Myer retail group with his brother, Elcon Myer. In 1900, they opened the first Myer department store, in Bendigo, Victoria. Since then, the Myer retail group has grown to be Australia's largest retailer. Both Myer and David Jones are up-market chains, offering a wide variety of products from mid-range names to luxury brands while the Adelaide-based Harris Scarfe is pitched towards brand led value, with hi-lo pricing. Other retail chain stores led by Kmart but also dominated by Target (unrelated to the American chain of the same name), Venture (now defunct), and Big W, also located nationally, are considered to be Australia's discount department stores. 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.
Department stores have virtually disappeared from Brazilian landscape in the late 90s. The last major chains, Mesbla and Mapping, merged in 1996 and filed for bankruptcy in 1999, ceasing operations. These days, only small regional stores remain.
From its origins in the fur trade, the Hudson's Bay Company is the oldest corporation in North America and was the largest department store operator in Canada until the mid-1980s, with locations across the country. It also previously owned Zellers, another major Canadian department store which ceased to exist in March 2013 after selling its lease holdings to Target Canada. Other department stores in Canada are: Canadian Tire, Sears Canada, Ogilvy, Les Ailes de la Mode, Giant Tiger, Co-op, Costco and Holt Renfrew. Grocery giant Superstores carry many non-grocery items akin to a department store. Woolco had 160 stores in Canada when operations ceased (Walmart bought out Woolco in 1994). Today the low-price Walmart is by far the most dominant department store retailer in Canada with outlets throughout the country. Historically, department stores were a significant component in Canadian economic life, and chain stores such as Eaton's, Charles Ogilvy Limited, Freiman's, Spencer's, Simpsons, Morgan'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.
Before the 1950s, the department store held an eminent place in both Canada 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 centres. In 2003, U.S. department store sales were surpassed by big-box store sales for the first time (though some stores may be classified as "big box" by physical layout and "department store" by merchandise).
Albeit relatively small, the domestic Chilean retail market has proved fiercely competitive with several department stores sprouting in Santiago and then expanding north and south of Santiago. Leading department stores today include Falabella, Ripley, Almacenes París, La Polar, and Johnson's. Falabella, founded in 1889, has opened branches in Argentina, Colombia, and Peru, with París – its main Chilean competitor – coming on its heels.
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 dominating different regions. For example, INTIME department store has the biggest market presence in Zhejiang province, while Jinying department stores dominate Jiangsu Province. There are many other department store groups, such as Pacific, Parkson, Wangfujin,and New World, many of which are expanding quickly by listing in the financial market.
The first department store, Lane Crawford, was opened in 1850 by Scots Thomas Ash Lane and Ninian Crawford on Des Voeux Road, Hong Kong Island. At the beginning, the store mainly catered to visiting ships' crews as well as British Navy staff and their families. In 1900, the first ethnic-Chinese owned Sincere Department Store was opened by Ma Ying Piu, who returned from Australia and inspired by David Jones. In 1907, another former Hong Kong expatriate in Australia, the Kwoks family, returned to Hong Kong and founded Wing On.
Since the 1960s, a number of Japanese owned department stores started to enter the Hong Kong market. Daimaru was opened in the corner of Great George Street and Paterson Street in 1960, followed by Matsuzakaya, Isetan, Seibu, Sogo and Yaohan. Yaohan was taken over by JUSCO in 1990s and later became Æon.
In Colombia, upscale department stores came in the mid-20th century when Sears entered the country. Today, the Chilean department store Falabella is one of the most prominent in the country, with branches in Barranquilla, Cali, Bogota, Medellin, Pereira and Bucaramanga. Falabella is one of the most popular stores in Colombia today.
In Denmark there are three department store chains: Magasin (1868), Illum (1891), and Salling (1906). Magasin is by far the largest, with six stores all over the country, with the flagship store being Magasin du Nord on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. Illum's only store on Amagertorv in Copenhagen has the appearance of a department store with 20% run by Magasin, but has individual shop owners making it a shopping centre. However, in people's minds, 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 store in central Helsinki is the biggest department store in the Nordic countries and a famous landmark of Helsinki.
France's major upscale department stores are Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps, which both have flagship stores on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris and branches around the country. The first department store in France, Le Bon Marché in Paris, was founded in 1838 and is now owned by the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. La Samaritaine, another upscale department store also owned by LVMH, closed in 2005. Mid-range department stores chains also exist in France, such as the BHV-Marais (Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville), part of the same group as Galeries Lafayette. It's known to be Parisian favorite department store.
The design and function of department stores in Germany followed the lead of London, Paris and New York. Germany used to have a number of department stores; now only a few of them remain. Next to some smaller, independent department stores these are Karstadt (in 2010 taken over by Nicolas Berggruen, also operating the KaDeWe in Berlin, the Alsterhaus in Hamburg and the Oberpollinger in Munich), GALERIA Kaufhof (part of the Canadian Hudson Bay Company since 2017). Others like Hertie, Wertheim and Horten AG were taken over by others and either fully integrated or later closed.
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).
Small time department stores – or convenience stores as they are better known in most western countries – are also upcoming.[when?] Although these stores are much bigger in size than a usual-size convenience store in, for example, the USA, they are much smaller than a regular-sized department store. Examples include Sabka Bazaar, Big Apple, Spencer's and Dailymart.
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 positioned for lower-middle segment is Matahari, now owned by Lippo Group. The group previously managed to trade under Mega M, Galeria, JC Penney, Parisian and Walmart brands, all of which have been progressively closed.
The middle-up segment is mainly occupied by Metro Department Store originated from Singapore and Sogo from Japan. 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; the latter closed in 2010 and plans to return. Other international department stores include Debenhams (closed in 2017) and Marks & Spencer. Galeries Lafayette also joined the Indonesian market in 2013 inside Pacific Place Mall. This department store is targeting the middle-up market with a price range from affordable to luxury, and is poised to be the largest upscale department store. Galeries Lafayette, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, Seibu and Sogo are all operated by PT. Mitra Adiperkasa.
Central Group from Thailand entered Indonesia replacing Harvey Nichols at Jakarta's Grand Indonesia, bringing its flagship Central brand. Its entry gained success in the Indonesian market by bringing Thailand-based fashion and living brands. Parkson, Lotte, and AEON also entered Indonesia in the 2010s.
Parkson acquired the local brand Centro Department Store in 2011. Centro still operates for middle market while the Parkson brand itself, positioned for middle-up segment, entered in 2014 by opening its first store in Medan, followed by its second store in Jakarta. Lotte, meanwhile, entered the market by inking a partnership with Ciputra Group, creating what is called 'Lotte Shopping Avenue' inside the Ciputra World Jakarta complex, as well as acquiring Makro and rebranding it into Lotte Mart.
AEON also inked a partnership with Sinarmas Land, and they were scheduled to open its flagship store inside its AEON Mall in Sinar Mas Land's flagship BSD City on 30 May 2015. Plans to open AEON Mall and its AEON Department Store in Jakarta Garden City, Sentul City and Kota Deltamas have been announced.
Other local department store brands include STAR Department Store, Surya, Suzuya Department Store, JM Department Store, Java/Lotus (PT. Mitra Adiperkasa's low-end dept store brand, now closed), the Grand Palace, Yogya, Lima Cahaya, Chandra Department Store, Galeri Keris, Pasaraya and Indonesia's oldest department store Sarinah, which opened in 1963.
Iran's largest department store chain is Shahrvand with 31 stores, all located in Tehran. The other department store that has been established lately is Hyperstar that invested by Carrefour's license holder, Majid Al Futtaim Group, in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan.
Ireland developed a strong middle class, especially in the major cities, by the mid-nineteenth century. They were active patrons of department stores. Delany's New Mart was opened in 1853 in Dublin, Ireland. Unlike others, Delany's had not evolved gradually from a smaller shop on site. Thus it could claim to be the first purpose-built department store in the world. The term "department store" had not been invented at that time, so it was called the "Monster House". The store was completely destroyed in the 1916 Easter Rising, but reopened in 1922.
Arnotts is one of the largest stores in Ireland. However, several large retailers now own chains of department stores, such as:
The most upmarket chain is undoubtedly Brown Thomas (known colloquially as BT), 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, from House of Fraser group 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).
The British department store, Debenhams, purchased the Roches Stores chain in 2006, closed two stores and rebranded the others. The opening of Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin's suburbs saw the arrival of two more British stores, House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols. The Woolworth chain store had major presence from the early twentieth century until 1984, when its stores throughout the Republic of Ireland closed their doors for the last time.
The oldest and largest department store chain in Israel is Hamashbir Lazarchan.
Some of the largest department stores in Japan are Daimaru (J. Front Retailing), Hankyu (H2O Retailing), Hanshin (H2O Retailing), Isetan (Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings), Marui, Matsuzakaya (J. Front Retailing), Matsuya, Mitsukoshi (Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings), Printemps Ginza, Seibu (7&i Holdings), Sogo (7&i Holdings), Takashimaya, Tobu, and Tokyu (109). Many are owned and operated in conjunction with private railway companies. Recently, business integration has been successive.
One of the oldest and biggest department stores in Kuwait is Union Trading Company, also known as UTC. It operates 17 retail outlets across the country and offers a wide selection of imported international brands in fashion and apparel, perfumery, cosmetics, accessories, housewares, electronics, appliances and food. Recently one of the most well known high-end clothing department stores in Kuwait is Villa Moda. Co-op society stores are department stores put up by the government.
The history of department stores in Lebanon dates back to 1900 when Orozdi-Back, a department store that was founded by a French businessman of Hungarian origin, opened a branch in Beirut. By the mid-twentieth century, Beirut had become the luxury department store of the Near East.
In Malaysia, companies such as Jusco, Parkson, Metrojaya, The Store, Isetan, Marks & Spencer, Robinson & Co., Debenhams, and Tangs are considered department stores, while retail brands such as Tesco, and Giant are discount department stores combined with supermarkets.
A large number of department stores are based in Mexico, of which the most traditional are El Palacio de Hierro (high end and luxury goods) and Liverpool (upper-middle income), with its middle income sister store Fabricas de Francia. Sanborns owns over 100 middle-income level stores throughout the country. Grupo Carso operates Sears Mexico and two high-end Saks 5th Avenue stores. Other large chains are Coppel and Elektra, which offer items for the bargain price seeker. Wal-Mart operates Suburbia for lower income shoppers, along with stores under the brand names of Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, and Superama.
The first two conglomerates have a very strong mark in the country, and particularly in Mexico City. Foreign chains such as J. C. Penney had previously entered the Mexican market, but they failed to gain popularity. Sears likewise had little success after it opened its first department store in Mexico City in 1947.
Bluebird is the first department store in Nepal and BhatBhateni is currently the largest chain of department stores, with several stores all over the country.
The most well known in the Netherlands are the local high-end department stores De Bijenkorf and the variety stores chain HEMA. A former well-known chain in the Netherlands was V&D. At 130 years of age, it was declared bankrupt in 2016. After the bankruptcy, the Canadian Hudson's Bay Company exported its Hudson's Bay and Saks OFF 5th chains to the Netherlands and entered the market. The strongest lines in the Netherlands have always been clothing.
The iconic department stores of New Zealand's three major centres are Smith & Caughey's (founded 1880), in New Zealand's most populous city, Auckland; Kirkcaldie & Stains (founded 1863) in the capital, Wellington; and Ballantynes (founded 1854) in New Zealand's second biggest city, Christchurch. These offer high-end and luxury items. Additionally, Arthur Barnett (1903) operates in Dunedin. H & J Smith is a small chain operating throughout Southland with a large flagship store in Invercargill. Farmers is a mid-range national chain of stores (originally a mail-order firm known as Laidlaw Leeds founded in 1909). Historical department stores include DIC. Discount chains include The Warehouse, Kmart Australia, and the now-defunct DEKA.
Lahore boasts H. Karim Buksh, Jalal sons and Potpourri stores with branches throughout the cities' commercial areas. Many urban centers of Pakistan now have large and spacious Metro Cash and Carry or Hyperstar stores.
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. 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. 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, other major department stores 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. Others include La Onda, Dorian's, Saks, Madison Store and El Titan.
Monalisa (1972) is a department store in Paraguay. It has a vast variety of luxury and high end brands, all in one department store. It has a wine cellar with over 100,000 wine bottles, with the majority from France, as well as wine from Spain and Italy.
Peru started with department stores in the 19th century, with the arrival of Oechsle in 1888. Then came other stores like Sears in 1947 and Saga Falabella in 1955.
Currently, the largest department stores are Saga Falabella, Oechsle, Paris SA and Ripley.
The first department store in the Philippines is the Hoskyn's Department Store of Hoskyn & Co. established in 1877 in Iloilo by the Englishman Henry Hoskyn, nephew of Nicholas Loney, the first British vice-consul in Iloilo. Some of the earliest department stores in the Philippines were located in Manila as early as 1898 with the opening of the American Bazaar, which was later named Beck's. During the course of the American occupation of the Philippines, many department stores were built throughout the city, many of which were located in Escolta. Heacock's, a luxury department store, was considered as the best department store in the Orient. Other department stores included Aguinaldo's, La Puerta del Sol, Estrella del Norte, and the Crystal Arcade, all of which were destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945. After the war, department stores were once again alive with the establishment of Shoemart (now SM), and Rustan's. Since the foundation of these companies in the 1950s, there are now more than one hundred department stores to date. At present, due to the huge success of shopping centres, department stores in the Philippines usually are anchor tenants within centres. SM Supermalls and Robinsons Malls are two of the country's most prominent shopping centre chains, all of which have department store sections.
The traditional and century-old department stores Armazéns Grandella (established in 1891) and Grandes Armazéns do Chiado (established in 1894) closed after their main buildings were destroyed in the Chiado's great fire on 25 August 1988.
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 widespread presence throughout the country of shopping centres and supermarket chains like Continente, owned by Sonae, Intermarché and Pingo Doce, owned by Jerónimo Martins, which are more akin to the local taste.
In Puerto Rico, various department stores have operated, such as Sears, JC Penney, Macy's, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx, Costco, Sam's Club and others. La New York was a Puerto Rican department store. Topeka, Capri and Pitusa are competitors on the Puerto Rican market that also have hypermarkets operating under their names. Retailers Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue also have plans to come to the Mall of San Juan, a new high-end retail project with over 100 tenants. The shopping centre was set to open in March 2015.
The site where the Saint Petersburg Passage sprawls had been devoted to trade since the city's foundation in the early 18th century. It had been occupied by various shops and warehouses (Maly Gostiny Dvor, Schukin Dvor, Apraksin Dvor) until 1846, when Count Essen-Stenbock-Fermor acquired the grounds to build an elite shopping centre for the Russian nobility and wealthy bourgeoisie. Stenbock-Fermor conceived of the Passage as more than a mere shopping centre, but also as a cultural and social centre for the people of St Petersburg. The edifice contained coffee-houses, confectioneries, panorama installations, an anatomical museum, a wax museum, and even a small zoo, described by Dostoyevsky in his extravaganza "Crocodile, or Passage through the Passage". The concert hall became renowned as a setting for literary readings attended by the likes of Dostoevsky and Turgenev. Parenthetically, the Passage premises have long been associated with the entertainment industry and still remains home to the Komissarzhevskaya Theatre.
Socialism confronted consumerism in the chain State Department Stores (GUM), set up by Lenin in 1921 as a model retail enterprise. It operated stores throughout Russia and targeted consumers across class, gender, and ethnic lines. GUM was designed to advance the Bolsheviks' goals of eliminating private enterprise and rebuilding consumerism along socialist lines, as well as democratizing consumption for workers and peasants nationwide. GUM became a major propaganda purveyor, with advertising and promotional campaigns that taught Russians the goals of the regime and attempted to inculcate new attitudes and behavior. In trying to create a socialist consumer culture from scratch, GUM recast the functions and meanings of buying and selling, turning them into politically charged acts that could either contribute to or delay the march toward utopian communism. By the late 1920s, however, GUM's gandiose goals had proven unrealistic and largely alienated consumers, who instead learned a culture of complaint and entitlement. GUM's main function became one of distributing whatever the factories sent them, regardless of consumer demand or quality.
In the 21st century the most famous department store in Russia is GUM in Moscow, followed by TsUM and the Petrovsky Passage. Other popular stores are Mega (shopping centres), Stockmann, and Marks & Spencer. Media Markt, M-video, Technosila, and White Wind (Beliy Veter) sell a large number of electronic devices. In St. Petersburg, the Passage has been popular since the 1840s. The 1956 Soviet film Behind Store Window depicts the operation of a Moscow department store in the 1950s.
Most department stores are clustered around Orchard Road in Singapore. 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 suburban shopping centres.
Concept of department store introduced during Japanese forced occupation. Hwashin Sanghoe (literally “Hwashin Store”) in downtown Seoul was considered as first department store in Korea. Mitsukoshi opened Seoul branch in 1930 as Keijo Mitsukoshi(京城三越). After the liberation of Korea, Japanese-owned department stores became government corporation. For example, Mitsukoshi became Dongwha and acquired by Samsung in 1963, and Choujiya became Midopa then acquired by Lotte in late 1990s.
The five most prevalent chains are Lotte, Hyundai, Shinsegae, Galleria, and AK Plaza. Lotte Department Store is the largest, operating more than 60 stores (including Lotte Outlets, Young Plazas, and foreign branches). Hyundai Department Store has about 19 stores (15 department, 4 outlet), and there are 13 stores in Shinsegae. Shinsegae has three outlet stores with Simon. Galleria has five, and AK has five stores. These five department stores are known as giant retailers in South Korea. From fashion items to electric appliances, people can buy various kinds of products. Every weekend, people are fond of going around these department stores, because their locations are usually easy to visit.
The first department store in Spain was Almacenes el Siglo, opened in October 1881 in Barcelona. Following the 2002 closure by the Australian group Partridges of their SEPU (Sociedad Española de Precios Unicos) department store chain, which was one of 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 product. The group also controls a number of other retail formats, including the supermarket chain Supercor and hypermarket chain Hipercor. It currently employs 91,000 people and is the largest department store in Europe, with department stores all over mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Portugal. Its first store opened in Madrid, where it currently has its headquarters. As of 2016, there were 95 El Corte Inglés department stores.
In Sri Lanka there are few department stores. Most are based on Colombo, the country's capital. Notable department stores are Odel, the Food City chain by Cargills (Ceylon) PLC and the Arpico chain operated by David Pieris & Co.
The largest department store chain in Sweden is Åhléns, which operates stores throughout the country. Its flagship Stockholm store, Åhléns City, is the largest department store in Sweden. Other large stores are Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and PUB in Stockholm (closed in 2015).
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 acquisition 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 Bern respectively.
Notable department store chains in Taiwan include Breeze (eight branches), Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (13 branches), Far Eastern Department Stores (10 branches), Pacific Sogo (nine branches), Uni-Ustyle Department Store (formerly Uni-President Hankyu) (two branches), Pacific Department Store (two branches), Dayeh Takashimaya (one branch), Ming Yao Department Store (one branch) and Chungyo Department Store (one branch, Taichung local). Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Pacific Sogo and Dayeh Takashimaya were established as joint ventures between Taiwanese companies and Japanese department store chains. Uni-President Hankyu was replaced by Uni-Ustyle in 2016 due to expiration of the contract on March 2 that year, while Takashimaya sold its 50% stake in Dayeh Takashimaya, thus leading to company's withdrawal despite the name 'Takashimaya' is still used to this day.
Two of the central department stores are Central Chidlom, the oldest in Thailand, having been established in 1947.
The Siam Center, which opened in 1973, is known to be one of the oldest department store in Bangkok, Thailand.
While many shopping centres have opened in Turkey since 2000, department stores are located inside the centres. YKM, Boyner and Özdilek are the main department stores in Turkey. While Boyner and YKM takes places in centres, Özdilek generally builds its own building near popular spots.
Most of the early department stores in London started out as small drapery shops which bought up neighbouring shops and increased their range of products.
John Lewis Newcastle (formerly Bainbridge) in Newcastle upon Tyne is the world's oldest department store. It is still known to many of its customers as Bainbridge, despite the name change to 'John Lewis'. The Newcastle institution dates back to 1838 when Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge, aged 21, 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. John Lewis bought the Bainbridge store in 1952.
John Lewis Newcastle retained its original name of Bainbridge until 2002, when the store was rebranded as John Lewis Newcastle.
Also, Kendals in Manchester can lay claim to being one of the oldest department stores in the UK. 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 using it as a typical warehouse simply to showcase textiles, it became a vast bazaar. Serving Manchester's upmarket clientele for over 200 years, it was taken over by House of Fraser and recently rebranded as House of Fraser Manchester – although most Mancunians still refer to it as Kendals. The Kendal Milne signage still remains over the main entrance to the art deco building in the city's Deansgate.
In Edinburgh, Jenners saw a similar development. It started 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 UK 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 tills. 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.
Historian William H. Young emphasizes the impressive architecture of the department stores, which dominated the downtown retail shopping district:
Most major cities had distinctive local department stores, which anchored the downtown shopping district until the arrival of the shopping centres in the 1960s. Washington, for example, after 1887 had Woodward & Lothrop and Garfinckel's starting in 1905. Garfield's went bankrupt in 1990, as did Woodward & Lothrop in 1994. Baltimore had four major department stores: Hutzler's was the prestige leader, followed by Hecht's, Hochschild's and Stewart's. They all operated branches in the suburbs, but all closed in the late twentieth century. By 2015, most locally owned department stores around the country had been consolidated into larger chains, or had closed down entirely.
Chain department stores grew rapidly after 1920, and provided competition for the downtown upscale department stores, as well as local department stores in small cities. J. C. Penney had four stores in 1908, 312 in 1920, and 1452 in 1930. Sears, Roebuck & Company, a giant mail-order house, opened its first eight retail stores in 1925, and operated 338 by 1930, and 595 by 1940. The chains reached a middle-class audience, that was more interested in value than in upscale fashions. Sears was a pioneer in creating department stores that catered to men as well as women, especially with lines of hardware and building materials. It deemphasized the latest fashions in favor of practicality and durability, and allowed customers to select goods without the aid of a clerk. Its stores were oriented to motorists – set apart from existing business districts amid residential areas occupied by their target audience; had ample, free, off-street parking; and communicated a clear corporate identity. In the 1930s, the company designed fully air-conditioned, "windowless" stores whose layout was driven wholly by merchandising concerns.
An even more popular level, were the Variety stores, especially the dime stores, led by Woolworth, Kresge, and Kress. They operated over 4200 stores in 1930. By the 21st century, the dime store disappeared and the niche of low-cost, high turnover merchandise was taken over by the dollar stores.
The 2000s have seen a worldwide decline with the rise of e-commerce. The number of companies operating department stores dropped from 95 (operating 9,969 stores) in 2006 to 68 (operating 9,456 stores) in 2013.
Department stores tend to target different socio-economic and geographic segments:
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.
On 1 March 1869, Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution opened in Salt Lake City 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 structure.
In 1999, the May Department Stores bought a 14-store ZCMI chain and rebranded it as "Meier & Frank", a May property with eight stores in Oregon and Washington. Subsequently, May Department Stores completed a merger with Federated Department Stores and the Meier & Frank brand ZCMI stores became Macy's stores, effective late 2006.
The original facade of the ZCMI store was again preserved during the late 2000s construction of city creek center. The original plans removed the facade however public outcry persuaded the retaining of the beautiful historic architecture. The facade can still be seen from the TRAX station that runs between the new complex.
In 1881, Joseph Lowthian Hudson opened a small men's clothing store in Detroit. After 10 years he had eight stores in the midwest and was the most profitable clothing retailer in the country. In 1893, he began construction of J. L. Hudson Department Store at Gratiot and Farmer Streets in Detroit. The store grew over the years and a 25-story tower was added in 1928. The final section was a 12-story addition in 1946, giving the entire complex 49 acres (20 ha) of floor space.
After World War II Hudson's realized that the limited parking space at its downtown skyscraper would increasingly be a problem for its customers. The solution in 1954 was to open the Northland Center in nearby Southfield, just beyond the city limits. It was the largest suburban shopping center in the world, and quickly became the main shopping destination for northern and western Detroit, and for much of the suburbs. By 1961 the downtown skyscraper accounted for only half of Hudson's sales; it closed in 1983. The Northland Center Hudson's, rebranded Macy's in 2006 following acquisition by Federated Department Stores, was closed along with the remaining stores in the center in March 2015 due to the center's high storefront vacancy, decaying infrastructure, and financial mismanagement.
George Dayton had founded his Dayton's Dry Goods store in Minneapolis in 1902 and the AMC cooperative in 1912. His descendants built Southdale Center in 1956, opened the Target discount store chain in 1962 and the B. Dalton Bookseller chain in 1966. Dayton's grew to 19 stores under the Dayton's name plus five other regional names acquired by Dayton-Hudson. The Dayton-Hudson Corporation closed the flagship J. L. 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. In 2002, Dayton's and Hudson's were consolidated into the Marshall Field's name. In 2005, May Department Stores acquired all of the Marshall Field's stores and shortly thereafter, Macy's acquired May.
In 1849, Horne's began operations and soon became a leading Pittsburgh department store. In 1879, it opened a seven-story landmark which was the first department store in the city's downtown. In 1972, Associated Dry Goods acquired Horne's, and ADG expanded operations of Horne's to several stores in suburban centers throughout the Pittsburgh region as well as in Erie, Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio. In December 1986, Horne's was acquired by a local investor group following ADG's acquisition by May Department Stores. By 1994, Federated Department Stores acquired the remaining ten Horne's stores and merged them with its Lazarus division, completely ceasing all operations of any store under the Horne's name.
Kaufmann's was founded in Pittsburgh in 1871 by Jacob and Isaac Kaufmann. In 1877, the brothers moved downtown to a location that became known as The Big Store. "The Big Store" featured a large landmark outdoor clock that became a popular meeting place and city icon.
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