It is no secret that the once bustling high street has struggled in recent years. Footfall has faced an unprecedented decline due to online competition, weaker consumer confidence and rising overheads, and department stores- once anchors of the high street- have suffered as a result.
Department stores, like other physical retailers, are going through a transformational period. Although many brands across the globe are closing thousands of stores, this does not mean that department stores are doomed, but that a long overdue shake-out of the poorest performers is occurring.
Several reasons have been given to explain Boohoo’s exponential growth in recent years. Publisher Analyst Eleanor Uttley stated that
“While the current retail environment is tough, it doesn’t mark the end of the road for department stores, it is simply a transformational period in which only the best can survive. Department stores have undoubtedly suffered as a result of the popularity of online retail and fast fashion, two trends which have drastically changed the needs and desires of the modern day customer”.
A number of stores have failed to merge online features into their physical stores, which has proven to be an effective way to attract customers for many other retailers. Many department stores also lack a clear identity and in-store experience, a failure to innovate in this way has meant that stores are often perceived as outdated and stagnant, which has been particularly damaging in a time when footfall is declining.
Despite the difficulties stores are facing in the current climate, there are a number of brands bucking the trend, suggesting that there is still a place for department stores in the retail environment. Brands that establish a clear identity stand out and appeal to customers and high-end department stores have proven to be somewhat insulated to the issues others stores are facing.