Thursday, May 25, 2006

Only one giant department store left in Delaware

The news that Federated Department stores is selling the Strawbridges store in Christiana mall to the company that owns the mall has forced me to take stock of the state of department stores in Northern Delaware as well as across the country. Federated and the May Company have been gobbling up chain and after chain of department stores. Now, Federated Department Stores has purchased May Company, which means a consolidation of almost every department store I have ever heard of.

Federated has Macy's and Bloomingdale's, but they are getting rid of the Hecht's, Strawbridges and Lord and Taylor names. They may sell Lord and Taylor by the end of the year and are closing some underperforming stores, such as the one in Christiana mall, as quickly as possible. The many regional names (such as Kaufmann's in the Pittsburgh area) are being replaced with Macy's, eliminating hundreds of years of traditions of regional department stores. Only Macy's has survived the meat grinder of consolidation. In a quote from Federated:
"We respect that May Company's regional store names are deeply rooted in their communities, we appreciate the heritage and traditions associated with those names"
Just forget the former names though, OK?

So where to shop? Certainly Macy's or Bloomingdale's are still available for a little while, at least until they consolidate to either Maimingdales or Bloomacy's. Christiana Mall and other retail malls across the country that have been denuded of anchor stores are looking at replace them with the less tradional Target or K-mart. They may even forego anchor stores for more smaller stores as a way of filling the space and pulling in more customers. Even before it accreted a ring of strip malls around it, Christiana Mall, was supposedly in the top 2% of retail sales volume in the country. It will be interesting to see what affect these changes will have on it.

Farther North from Christiana Mall are the Concord Mall and the Brandywine Town Center. Concord Mall, the older one, has always had trouble keeping filled with stores and may soon have its Strawbridges renamed Macy's. The boondoggle that is Brandywine Town center has only recently begun to fill up its retail space after many years of construction and even more years of completely empty retail space. Shopping online has never seemed wiser.

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