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Old Yesterday, 09:15 AM
 
504 posts, read 145,884 times
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The department store sector seems to be suffering more than other retailers. Why?

I can see why Sears is failing (it's outclassed by plenty of other chains that have nicer stores and wider variety), but chains like Dillard's and Lord & Taylor are wonderful: nice stores with nice-quality clothes and home furnishings, and great selection. I'd much rather go to Lord & Taylor and be able to pick from a wide range of nice-quality clothes all in one store, at a good price, than have to go to 10 different smaller stores. It's just more efficient to buy everything in one place.

My only issue with department stores is that so few of them are left in downtowns; you usually have to go to the mall to go to a department store, and I prefer not to shop in a mall (driving there, dealing with a big parking lot and a look-alike indoor environment).

So, in your view, why are department stores on the way out? I truly do not understand why.
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Old Yesterday, 09:28 AM
 
1,222 posts, read 1,368,207 times
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Because they are more expensive than ordering the same stuff on-line. It is about the price. They have the overhead cost of having physical store. Shopping has come a full circle. When I was growing up, we had no department stores locally and all of our shopping was through catalogs such as Sears, Monkey Ward and JC Penny's. We would fill out a form, or call in an order. When it arrived, they called us and we would pick it up. Now, the ordering is on-line and it ships directly to your house.
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Old Yesterday, 09:45 AM
 
5,784 posts, read 3,073,093 times
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While I agree on line is a part of it, I think a much bigger part is poor management -- poor quality product, poor service, and poor selection.

I can remember Sears when you could get anything. From furniture to appliances to tools to fishing to farming. If they didn't have it in the store, there was a specialty catalog. But their service and product selection went to nothing. They got rid of much of what made them and tried to focus on fashion. Walmart came along with lower prices on everyday clothes and others had better selection of fashion.

Quality went down as they sold more Chinese junk rather than high quality products. The brand went from being recognized for quality and dependability to crap. Like someone said above, Sears was the Amazon model before the internet. But that backed out of that line of service. If they'd been smart, they would have been Amazon. Then bought Kmart. Dumb financial decision to buy what in many cases was the other anchor store in the same mall and was already struggling.

Many other major retailers went under well before the internet came along -- Woolworth, Montgomery Ward, etc. Got taken over by Harvard MBAs who understood finance, but not customers. Sold cheap junk when Walmart was selling higher quality at the same or lower prices. Now Walmart is following in their footsteps being filled with cheap Chinese junk. As Walmart is now, Sears and Kmart once were. As Sears and Kmart are now, Walmart will be. Add in more competitors all selling the same junk, no service to draw customers into the stores, and the ability to shop when you want in your own home with free shipping, and it's no wonder they are going out of business.
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Old Yesterday, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Queen Creek, AZ
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Interestingly, one of the best performing department stores currently is Kohl's. What could be helping them are modern stores and the fact that most of their stores are located outside of malls.
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Old Yesterday, 10:25 AM
 
417 posts, read 100,463 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
While I agree on line is a part of it, I think a much bigger part is poor management -- poor quality product, poor service, and poor selection.

<snip>Quality went down as they (Sears) sold more Chinese junk rather than high quality products. The brand went from being recognized for quality and dependability to crap.
This is true of many department stores, IMO. I try to avoid Made in China and once went looking for a bathrobe for DH. We went to 5 stores and every $#@! robe was made in China, including some higher-end brands in Macy's. I bought terrycloth and made DH a bathrobe. in Kansas.

I don't buy many clothes now- I'm retired and I buy things that are classic styles and will last a long time. I don't bother going into department stores because it's 99% cheap, made in developing countries where labor and pollution laws are lax, and most of it is made for 20-somethings. I'm 65 and in good shape, but spaghetti straps, peek-a-boo shoulders and other details would look silly on me. I've found a couple of good brands made in the USA (Karen Kane and Amour Vert) and buy their products on-line. Chico's has some nice things made in the USA as well.

And something has happened to the demand for mall shopping- not sure what, but it's hit the department stores badly since that's where most of their business was. Mall shopping used to be almost a hobby for some people and now they must be doing other things with their time.
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Old Yesterday, 10:28 AM
 
88 posts, read 40,710 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
Then bought Kmart. Dumb financial decision to buy what in many cases was the other anchor store in the same mall and was already struggling.
Actually it was Kmart thought bought Sears.
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Old Yesterday, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Queen Creek, AZ
4,685 posts, read 7,241,413 times
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Speaking of Made in China, even a lot of clothes aren't being made in China anymore but in third world countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan, and parts of Africa and Latin America where labor costs are lower. This is even true for some premium designer labels. Typically only true luxury brands are generally made in the USA, Canada, or Europe.
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Old Yesterday, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
26,910 posts, read 28,260,950 times
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There is also another underreported problem. So I have been sizes 14-18 for my adult life. And let me tell you it is a frustrating universe. I’m busty and have big thighs which often means many brands don’t fit me.

Over the past 20 years 50% of American woman’s size has moved to 16 and larger but most brick and mortar stores stop at 14 or 16.

And most department stores have a hideous selection of things over size 14. These clothes are also hiding in the back, dark, dank section of the store.

With the rise of online shopping you get better selection and better customer experience. Why go to stores who treat you like a 3rd class citizen? When only 1-3 stores in the mall have your size - why would you go?

Retailers aren’t waking up to reality and are suffering because of it.
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Old Yesterday, 11:12 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
3,203 posts, read 9,275,921 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PuppiesandKittens View Post
The department store sector seems to be suffering more than other retailers. Why?

I can see why Sears is failing (it's outclassed by plenty of other chains that have nicer stores and wider variety), but chains like Dillard's and Lord & Taylor are wonderful: nice stores with nice-quality clothes and home furnishings, and great selection. I'd much rather go to Lord & Taylor and be able to pick from a wide range of nice-quality clothes all in one store, at a good price, than have to go to 10 different smaller stores. It's just more efficient to buy everything in one place.

My only issue with department stores is that so few of them are left in downtowns; you usually have to go to the mall to go to a department store, and I prefer not to shop in a mall (driving there, dealing with a big parking lot and a look-alike indoor environment).

So, in your view, why are department stores on the way out? I truly do not understand why.
The stores you mentioned are MUCH more expensive than Walmart/Target, so don't appeal to those large customer bases.

Online shopping is FAR more convenient than going to a mall or department store. When online, you can price compare from your couch.

I'm way too busy to shop for things at stores when I can get the same things online. That's just me. I haven't bought clothing, furniture, or appliances at a store in as long as I can remember. I bought my last mattress, lawn mower, winter coat, pair of shoes, underwear, etc, from my computer desk.
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Old Yesterday, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Fairfield, CT
5,549 posts, read 8,215,623 times
Reputation: 5800
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
While I agree on line is a part of it, I think a much bigger part is poor management -- poor quality product, poor service, and poor selection.

I can remember Sears when you could get anything. From furniture to appliances to tools to fishing to farming. If they didn't have it in the store, there was a specialty catalog. But their service and product selection went to nothing. They got rid of much of what made them and tried to focus on fashion. Walmart came along with lower prices on everyday clothes and others had better selection of fashion.

Quality went down as they sold more Chinese junk rather than high quality products. The brand went from being recognized for quality and dependability to crap. Like someone said above, Sears was the Amazon model before the internet. But that backed out of that line of service. If they'd been smart, they would have been Amazon. Then bought Kmart. Dumb financial decision to buy what in many cases was the other anchor store in the same mall and was already struggling.

Many other major retailers went under well before the internet came along -- Woolworth, Montgomery Ward, etc. Got taken over by Harvard MBAs who understood finance, but not customers. Sold cheap junk when Walmart was selling higher quality at the same or lower prices. Now Walmart is following in their footsteps being filled with cheap Chinese junk. As Walmart is now, Sears and Kmart once were. As Sears and Kmart are now, Walmart will be. Add in more competitors all selling the same junk, no service to draw customers into the stores, and the ability to shop when you want in your own home with free shipping, and it's no wonder they are going out of business.
I think there's a lot of truth to this.

There used to be a Filene's near me that had a great men's department and I bought almost all my clothes there, including suits. The salespeople were professional and knowledgeable, having done it as a career, and the quality of the tailoring was great.

After Macy's took over the store, the quality went way downhill. I tried to buy a suit there and there was nobody to help me in the men's department. They also didn't have a single suit in my size, and I am a normal height and weight. The service is so poor that they make it almost impossible to shop there.

I think that if department stores want to do well, they have to offer buyers a good experience. Not everybody wants to buy clothes over the internet without trying them on, or seeing them in person. There is still a market to sell things to people in stores, and not everybody is price sensitive if they are getting the product and experience that they want. But today's department stores, for the most part, don't offer that. They still operate as if people have no other choice but to shop there.
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