Is the department store business dead?

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Is the department store business dead?
Image Credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart
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With the announcement of plans to close 100 stores in early 2017, the department store Macy’s acknowledged that America is “over-stored.”

Maybe you’ve never heard that term before, but the meaning has become increasingly obvious as stores continue to shutter.

Read more: Shrinking Macy’s to close 100 additional stores

Why so many retailers are struggling

Appearing on CNBC, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said the United States has 7.3 square feet of retail space per person, while the United Kingdom has 1.3 square feet per person — a ‘ridiculous’ number.

On the radio show, Clark said the department store business as we know it is ‘dead, dead, dead.’

Changing shopping habits

Your first instinct may be to blame the Internet, but there’s actually an even bigger reason why people aren’t shopping as much at Macy’s and other department stores.

Simply put, people don’t like the experience their local mega-mall provides.

Instead, shoppers are choosing to spend their dollars at smaller strip malls, where they can drive right up and park close to the door.

Interestingly, it’s these shopping centers where T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross are found.

And those chains, which sell name-brand clothing for 20% to 60% off regular prices at department stores, are opening new locations — not closing them.

Turnaround strategy in place

Macy’s says the closures represent a proactive step to help them invest more money into surviving locations.

Shoppers can look forward to new vendor shops, expanded personal shopping services and in-store events and experiences, Macy’s said in a news release.

People on our Facebook page say those changes are long overdue:

Sue: I stopped shopping at Macy’s many years ago. The quality of their products kept going downhill so why pay Macy’s prices when I can get that kind of quality elsewhere for a fraction of the price.

Renee:  The customer service at Macy’s leaves a lot to be desired. Their stores are disorganized and the dressing rooms are shabby and always full of clothes. If the company would teach their employees to take pride in their work and workplace then perhaps they wouldn’t have to close so many stores.

Sydney: Sad. One day, attending a big department store is going to be tourist attraction…see kids, how we shopped back in the olden days.

Retail layoffs imminent

Employees of Macy’s are entering a period of uncertainty as they wait to find out whether their location will be closed. The company says it plans to notify them before the public.

Some associates may be offered positions in other stores, but there’s no guarantee.

Savings in store

In the meantime, Clark says this fall will be “heavily promotional” in the retail industry, which means killer deals through the Christmas shopping season.

Look for especially deep discounts on housewares and clothing.

Read more: These 13 major retailers are each closing at least 100 stores

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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