The death of the Department store, a place beyond time | Jess Cartner-Morley

I have a deep love on the fourth floor of John Lewis on Oxford Street flagship. Homespun magic division haberdashery fascinates me as an adult Diagon alley. And when my children were young, I found the Board without the frills and bright colors of the nursery Department is deeply comforting. But even those of us who love Department stores, I must admit that this is, at this point, Sepia-Toned nostalgia and some affection.

The decline of the Department store is in direct proportion to the growth of the brand. Dedication to the modern buyer has their favorite brands – with which they can have a “relationship” on Instagram or through pop – up shops to a permanent physical space.

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Department stores were once proud of their independence in the sale of 40 brands of soap and 12 styles of laptop. But this stout impartiality at risk making them less glamorous than in boutiques.

It’s not a coincidence that Department stores suffered the most are those that have little identity as a brand. (Can someone determine which house of Fraser stands for?) John Lewis, with his emotional Christmas ads, worked hard to reverse the trend by strengthening its self and Selfridge has redefined itself as an experience retail.

Stores inherently time-inefficient and requires a human touch. When you think you’ve found the escalator, he usually turns out to be incorrect. You need to ask directions and purchase a few floors.

A quick guide to the health of UK retail at



Stores that went bankrupt 2017-18

Toys R us: 180 shops are 3,000 employees, collapsed on 28 February. Owe 15 million pounds in VAT, in connection with the 1 March.

Workshop: 200 electronics and gadgets stores, established in 1972, also failed on 28 Feb.

Warren Evans: the manufacturer went into administration in early February.

East: a fashion brand with nearly 50 outlets, folded in January.

Juice case: history of brands, including Elizabeth Emanuel and Joe Bloggs went in January.

Multiyork: furniture chain with 50 stores went into administration in November.

Feather & black: bedroom furniture and bedding specialist with 25 points fell into administration in November.

Retailers under pressure

New look has debts of more than 1 billion pounds and has lost some of its credit insurance which protects suppliers if the seller is bankrupt. For 10 months before Christmas, sales fell by 11%, but losses hit £123m height. The company intends to close 60 stores and change its ranges of fashion, but faces struggle to win back young buyers.

House of Fraserwith the Chinese owner, Sanpower, had to stump up £ 25 million to see the store at Christmas and its debt is estimated as undesirable. The retailer is trying to reduce the size of its stores by 30% and asked landlords to cut rents.

The Debenhamsin the 178-store chain, for over 200 years, to kill one of the four leaders and with account closures to cut costs. He warned that revenues were lower than expected level of sales, profits also declined as a result of having to reduce prices to match competitors.

Photo: Tony Margiocchi / Barcroft Images/Barcroft media

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It’s all at odds with the instinct for the modern consumer with the speed and individualism, coupled with the latest technology. The same technological forces that made the city lined up against the Department store.

In order to entice modern consumers to get off your phone and into the store, most forward-thinking Department stores are turning retail into a modern entertainment. Selfridge stages of an ambitious multi-sensory art exhibitions, John Lewis includes a pop-up rooftop restaurants, while the freedom is sewing school. New toy Department in Harrods features the lighting of tunnels and costume fitting, while Harvey Nichols is running cocktail master classes.