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Classic department store?

Goodbye, KARSTADT and Kaufhof.

Now the relaunch as Galeria only, with new multifunction-concept for the stores.


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I'll Lock Up
Gads Hill, Ontario
Speaking of Selfridges, it will no longer be Canadian owned, but Thai owned.

The billionaire Weston family has agreed to sell, after the death of patriarch Galen Weston Sr. in April.


I get the feeling that it has very much accelerated the way things were going anyhow, the main effect being to sweep up the last of the refuseniks for online shopping who must by this point be becoming convinced. I've long been buying most things online, either through lack of availability anywhere else (specialist vinyl, books, my clothes, especially trousers), or the keener price. Sure, I'd love to support a small, local bookshop over an online giant like Amazon. Thing is, I'm not financially well enough off that I can justify spending literally double the price in most instances....plus even before it closed and moved away, my local bookshop just didn't stock most of what I wanted, and I'd have had to wait for much longer than Amazon's next day delivery, as well as paying twice the price...

It feels to me that just as the traditional department stores were gradually repalced by the mall, so too now much retail is being replaced by the web. It's a logical thing, really - price aside, for items which you need to order and have delivered *anyhow*, especially electricals and such where one item is identical to the next, the convenience of online ordering is a no-brainer.

My feeling is that retail in bricks and mortar stores will increasingly evolve to become 'destination' shopping (a famous brand such as Harrods, or Fortnum & Mason, or Selfridges), or retailing either the sorts of goods where the customer values the look and feel of an individual example (a musical instrument - especially used, a second-hand car) - though even in that latter case (and with those specific examples) the online sales model is fast becoming normalised. I suspect we may well still see shops offering specialist, niche retail experiences, but it will be very much a combination of that and online sales. The description of the specialist record store in Nick Hornby's Hi-Fidelity - which provided a social space for a certain kind of patron, but in reality did most of its business by mail - is a pertinent one. At the time the book was written (1995), ecommerce was still science fiction; now, that oddball shop in the book is a very common business model.

Aero's factory shop is an excellent example of how I see retail for many things going - you can visit, for many fans of the brand it's a once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime trip to see where, how, and by whom your stuff is made, but most transactions will be online.

Whether there will always be a mall or a big department store that kids will hang out in as a socialising option? Who knows. The O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) here in London is a good example of how some retail might survive - shops (or outlet shops) alongside primarily an entertainment space, with live music & comedy, a cinema, many restaurants. Spots for impulse buys, or as a 'showroom'. I think the 'showroom' aspect will become a much more staple version of retail. Appledo it well with their tech help and so on; I havea suspicion we'll see a lot more places that are a combination of helpdesk and showroom so you can try the product if you wish, then order it online. It's how many people already use electrical stores - it makes sense for those companies to actually build their model around it rather than suffer the experience of lots of folks coming to look, then buying cheaper elsewhere online.

Tootenham Court Road here in London twenty years ago was all hifi and tech stores. Now those are all gone, and it's mostly high-end furniture showrooms (try your sofa, see the options, order your spec and arrange delivery when it's been made to order), eateries, and opticians (which you obviously have to go to in person...). That's how I expect to see things evolving.

There are birght spots here. The pandemic has seen the collapse in the UK not only of some traditional stores (Debenhams has gone under; evne the mighty M&S is rumoured to be struggling more than it already was), but also kiddy-focussed, fast-fashion giants like TopShop in particular. I wouldn't see it as abackwards cultural step at all if kids' socialising experienceswent back to coffee houses and the cinema rather than congregating on a Satuday afternoon to buy cheap, fast fashion made in sweatshops... Maybe the ever-faster delivery speeds from online shopping will be just enough to satisfy, leading to a (slightly) slower fashion takeover rather than buying an almost disposable item to be worn once and thrown out, as regularly happens now?

The 'new' department stores here in the UK are really the big supermarkets - I'm sure influenced by the Wallmart type model. Our local Sainsburys isa flagship store with an incredbile range of foodstuffs, homeware, and (often surprisingly nice) basic clothing ranges, which are also ethically produced. It doesn't all suit me (the trousers are, inevitably, too low in the rise and too narrow in the leg for my tastes), but every so often they produce something that has a really nice cut or look, and I buy all my underwear there. With their ability to spread the cost, they can compete with online. They also offer bigger ranges online, some exclusive items, on 'click and collect'. C&C has been very popular in recent years as it's much easier for a lot of folksthatwaiting home all day for a courier delivery (pre-pandemic); buinesses who offer it can also increase footfall.

Apart from a handful of business types (food, mainly, and live entertainment) where onlnie consumption isn't realistic, we may also see new business models evolve. How about a cool cafe / entertainemtn space where you could collect your parcel, usea changing room to see if your new jeans fit - if they don't, arrange a return onsight - and grab a coffee with your pals? Maybe there could be store hifi booths where you could listen to your new vinyl lp immediately with your friends over a coffee or a coke? Changing conditions can be positive: my local area in the last twenty years has seen a rise in ice cream parlours, coffee houses, nice places to go and sit and socialise if you don't particularly feel like going to the pub - all created to meet market demand as the kids and grandkids of an immigrant diaspora who traditionally don't consume alcohol are around in increasing numbers at an age where they can't legally go to the pub, even if they could drink. It's provided some great hang-out spaces for all kids locally, which is fantastic. I'd have loved to have had even one of these places in the village I grew up in, where if you didn't want to sit in an old-people cafe, there was literally nowhere to hang out if you weren't old enough for the pub. It's changed markedly now - thanks to the post-peace process, Game of Thrones inspired tourist boom. (There's an appreciable irony in Northern Ireland having had little or no tourism for decades because people were afraid of the violence of the Troubles, and now a show filled with brutal violence is what has them flocking there.)

I'm hoping that the upshot of all this will be high streets starting to become 'local' again, and that the web will be the end of the Generation X phenomenon Douglas Coupland identified, where everywhere is the same because all the shops are the same...

And therein lies the rub... When The Dandy (DC Thompson comic, est 1935 - a few months older than the Beano, though in recent decades much less successful than its sibling) went out of print and became available in digital form only a few years ago, plenty of people bemoane it asasad loss to the culture, but crucially none of them had bought it for decades.

For myself, I know exactly the Christmas experience you discuss - and I enjoy it on the odd year when it's an option (many years we're rushing form the endof work for the term to get packed up and fly to my parents for a week; seasonal travel is part of the holiday experience I sort of enjoy, but it's still a stress every time). Thing is, though, I enjoy it becasue I'm stepped back from the chaos - I did all my shopping by October, so now I'm just watching everyone else panic while I have a tea...

Necessity is the mother of invention an aw that. Amazon may have killed many's a bookstore, even the ones with a good coffee shop, but new models will arise.
See, that's a thing, I will never comprehend.
We're in the 2020s, and chain-stores are still unable to manage their ERP systems correctly.

I mean, why are always a significant number of items (even their storebrand) NOT shown in the online shop, to give the chance to check the store-availability, although they are indeed stocked in their store?? And it's often nice stuff, not shown online!

Or I experienced other things like items were shown as "on stock", although the store itself hasn't got them already delivered!
Or items, which are correctly stocked in the store as shown online, with the correct EAN, BUT finally with wrong specifications. For example, a jeans with the correct article number, but the wrong fit.

I don't know really, but to me it seems, that there must be multiple malfunction between their central logistic and the particular department stores.

And that's not only happen to Galeria (Karstadt-Kaufhof)!

Maybe, that plays it's part in the demise of good old department store.
And I wouldn't wonder, if our older West-Germans could report such things from the 70s or so.

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