Nov 26, 2019

Department stores fight for relevance ahead of Black Friday

The tie-up, which Kohl's has expanded nationally after a successful pilot, shows the lengths that mid-market department stores on both sides of the Atlantic are being forced to go to in an effort to convince consumers to set foot in their stores. As department stores head into the busiest shopping period of the year, the outlook for them is bleak. Stacey Widlitz, founder of SW Retail Advisors, said that product offerings were "a sea of sameness" that left department stores with only price as a distinguishing feature - "Hitting the promotional panic button" to encourage footfall and ultimately eating into profit margins. An index of large-cap US department stores has lost 35 per cent of its value this year, making it the worst-performing subsector in the S&P 500 index. In the face of all of these pressures, department stores are having to stretch far beyond their roots to reinvent themselves as destinations that offer experiences that are unattainable on a laptop computer.

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