Tuesday, February 11, 2003

MSNBC asks: Are department stores dinosaurs?

Oh yes, they went obsolete in the 70's and I experienced the continued contraction. Newer concepts like big box super stores are getting obsolete so department stores definitely are.

The future belongs to the most efficient or the most convenient or the most exclusive or the most specialized. All can coexist but if you are not the best in one of those categories you are dying. The best department stores are branding themselves as a collection of exclusive brands and these departments can be expanded or contracted or changed as their popularity changes. So you are not going to Foley's in Houston as much as you are going to Clinique at Foley's. And the major problem is that these major prestige brands that everyone wants are not exclusive enough - other department stores have them and sometimes nondepartment stores. This forces department stores into a battle for prime locations to make their stores the most convenient and appealing to the best customers. Expensive, I could go into this more above developing store brands or exclusive offers from the well-advertised semi-exclusive brands but you get the picture - retail is a tough, competitive business.

Funny how I keep up with these things. Once a market researh analyst, always an analyst? It is also interesting in the MSNBC article to end with the May Company, the owner of Foley's for whom I worked years ago, not returning phone calls.

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