Whether it’s a platform for the next act in retail operations or a slide into the discount store format, Macy’s strategy to turn its shoe departments into self-service areas might be a signal that the department store concept is losing its soul. The chain, following tests of self-serve shoe departments in California and southwestern U.S., announced it is expanding the concept to all of its roughly 670 Macy’s locations by August. In doing so, it takes a big step toward changing its identity. Some retail observers describe that new identity as one of a discount chain like T.J. Maxx, which is a help-yourself retailer. But based on another of Macy’s key strategies — to continue bulking up its exclusive merchandise mix — the storied department store chain may be moving more toward a Target store model. Either way, it is uncertain if Macy’s efforts will distinguish it from these rivals, or blend it in with them. What is certain is the self-service tests performed well, producing “a nearly double-digit shoe sales increase in the first quarter, well above the shoe sales trend for the rest of the stores,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet told analysts during a recent conference call. Read more at Forbes.