Department Stores Have One Thing Left To Sell: Real Estate

by MR Magazine Staff

In 1914, legacy department store Lord & Taylor opened a giant flagship on Fifth Avenue. The building was the work of celebrated interior design firm Starrett & Van Vleck and featured a men’s-only entrance, three dining rooms, and an equestrian section equipped with a mechanical horse on which shoppers could test the merchandise. The extravagance of the New York City destination was in part because, as the New York Times notes, department stores were “largely places to pass the hours,” and shopping was a “consummate theatrical experience.” Just over a century later, the Lord & Taylor flagship is hardly a cathedral of American retail. Stores, in general, are shuttering by the hundreds in what’s now widely called the “retail apocalypse.” Foot traffic is down, and Credit Suisse predicts a quarter of American malls will be gone by 2022. Department stores, once a shopper’s paradise, are getting hit hard: As of September 2017, according to the Census Bureau, sales are at $12.6 billion, down from $14.2 billion in September of 2013. Read more at Racked.