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Attention shoppers...the oldest sector of modern retailing is going cheap in aisle 13. Department stores, particularly in Europe, are facing extremely difficult times. Out-of-town shopping complexes, specialist retailers and discount stores are inexorably eating into the customer base of city-centre department stores. How can the old dog of retail, the department store, learn new tricks to assure survival? The following article outlines the strategic issues facing the department-store sector and examines the future prospects for the industry.
Apart from having to respond to changes brought about by customer demand and the advent of rival retail formats, there have been several other factors affecting the survival and prosperity of the department-store sector. On balance, most of these have been negative and so have proved a test of the resilience of the format in today's retail environment.
The greatest threat to …