A department store is a retail establishment which specializes in selling a wide range of products without a single predominant merchandise line. Department stores usually sell products including apparel, furniture, appliances, electronics, and additionally select other lines of products such as paint, hardware, toiletries, cosmetics, photographic equipment, jewellery, 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.
The great Gostiny Dvor in St Petersburg, 1802.Hudson's Bay Company in Canada was the first store to include departments; however, by modern standards, it would not be considered a department store because of the size and range of items that were stocked. The same may be said about Gostiny Dvor in St Petersburg, which opened in 1785 and should probably be regarded as one of the first purposely-built shopping malls in the world, as it consisted of more than 100 shops covering an area of over 53,000 m�.
Visit Wal-Mart Department Store and find a range of products for less.
The first true department store was founded by Aristide Boucicaut in Paris. He founded Bon March� 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 Samaritaine, a large French department store established in 1870 by a former Bon March� executive.
The oldest independent department store in the world, until it was recently purchased by House of Fraser, was Jenners in Edinburgh, Scotland, which has maintained its original position on Edinburgh's Princes Street since 1838.
As Bon March� evolved into a fully fledged department store in the early 1850s, Delany's New Mart opened in 1853 in Dublin, Ireland on Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street). What made Delany's different from most department 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.
Another claimant to the title of "World's first department store" is Bainbridges in Newcastle upon Tyne, founded in 1838 as a drapers and fashion shop but on record as collecting its takings by department as early as 1849. The ledger from that year still survives in the archives of the John Lewis Partnership who bought the store in 1952, and retained its original name until 2002 when the store was rebranded as John Lewis Newcastle.
In New York City in 1846, Alexander Turney Stewart established the "Marble Palace" on the east-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. 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 York'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's 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 Brooklyn, "Abraham & Straus." (The Straus family would be in the management of both Macy's and A&S.)
A Bon March� department store in Paris, 1867.Similar developments were under way in London (with Whiteleys), in Paris (with La Samaritaine) and in Chicago, where department stores sprang up along State Street, notably Marshall Field and Company, which remains the second-largest store in the world (after Macy's). In 1877, Wanamaker's opened in Philadelphia. 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 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 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 Oregon and Washington. Subsequently May Department Stores completed a merger with Federated Department Stores and the Meier & Frank brand ZCMI stores have become Macy's 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 49 acres of floor space. In 1954 the company became a suburban shopping center pioneer when it built Northland 13 miles 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.
David Jones department store building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Market Street in Sydney.Some department stores leased space to individual merchants, similar to the changes in late 17th-century London, 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 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 malls.
 Discount department store
A typical Wal-Mart discount department store.A discount store is a type of department store, which sell products at prices lower than those asked by traditional retail outlets. Most discount department stores offer wide assortments of goods; others specialize in such merchandise as jewelry, electronic equipment, or electrical appliances. Discount stores are not dollar stores, which sell goods at a dollar or less. Discount stores differ because they sell branded goods and prices vary widely between different products. Discount department stores are more popular in the United States than other countries. Following World War II, a number of retail establishments in the United States began to pursue a high-volume, low-profit strategy designed to attract price-conscious consumers.
A statue of Hercules in a modern discount department store at Palazzo del Melograno, historical palace in Genoa, ItalyDuring the period from the 1950s to the late-1980s, discount stores were more popular than the average supermarket or department store. There were hundreds of discount stores in operation, with their most successful period occurring during the mid-1960s in the United States with discount store chains such as Kmart, Zayre, Kuhn's-Big K (sold to Wal-Mart in 1981), GEM, TG&Y and Woolco (closed in 1983, part sold to Wal-Mart) amongst others. Currently, Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, operates 1,353 discount stores in the United States; Target and Kmart are Wal-Mart's top competitors.
Examples of discount retail chain stores include Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, all of which opened their first locations in 1962. Other retail companies branched out into the discount store business around this time as adjuncts to their older store concepts. As examples, Woolworth opened a Woolco chain; Montgomery Ward opened Jefferson Ward; Chicago-based Jewel launched Turn Style; and Central Indiana-based L.S. Ayres created Ayr-Way. These chains typically were either shut down or sold to a larger competitor during the late '70s and early '80s. Kmart and Target themselves are examples of adjuncts, although their growth prompted their respective parent companies to abandon their older concepts (the S.S. Kresge five and dime store disappeared, while the Dayton-Hudson Corporation eventually divested itself of its department store holdings and renamed itself Target Corporation).
Many of the major discounters are now opening "supercenters", which add a full-service grocery store to the traditional format. The Meijer chain in the Midwest consists entirely of supercenters, while Wal-Mart and Target have focused on the format as of the '90s as a key to their continued growth. Although discount stores and department stores have different retailing goals and different markets, a recent development in retailing is the "discount department store", such as Sears Essentials, which is a combination of the Kmart and Sears formats, following the companies' merger as Sears Holdings Corporation.