retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a good story about the endangered US department store sector, which used to be "on the leading edge of retailing—big, exciting places to shop, where consumers could find everything from the latest toaster to an evening dress and matching shoes. Now, they are fighting for their lives," seemingly on the edge of obsolescence.

The story says that "saving the department store - or at least salvaging it - isn’t impossible, but doing so will require a radical rethink of how stores operate and relate to shoppers, say veteran retail executives."

While department stores' problems often are laid at the feet of e-commerce and so-called fast-fashion stores, the Journal writes that those same competitors exist elsewhere in the world, and yet department stores are a healthier breed.

"In the U.K.," the Journal writes, "Harrods and Selfridges are renowned for their food halls, which provide a sensory experience not replicated online. In Japan, the department store Nihombashi Mitsukoshi has hosted exhibits where artisans make ceramics, weave fabrics and practice other traditional crafts, creating a sense of theater."

KC's View:

It is a lesson that should be learned by every retailer - success is found in the margins where you are different, not the same.  Too many retailers forgot that, and now are suffering the inevitable result.

In the words of Jimmy Malone from The Untouchables: