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Department stores as urban landmarks: past, presence, future

Authors: Herman Kok*, Meyer Bergman
Topics: Business Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Europe
Keywords: retail, real estate, urban transformation
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Department stores were a new highlight of consumerism as of the 19th Century. Dubbed as grand bazaars, places where people can buy everything, department stores took, as cathedrals of consumption, a prominent position in the urban landscape. However, initially specialised retail and shopping centres, and nowadays e-commerce and changing lifestyles put challenges on both operators and formats of department stores. While stores have been closed down and operators have been restructured or disappeared, department store buildings tended to remain. Some got a new future, others fell into decay. This paper is about how department store buildings have been adjusted to a new market context. Focusing on Europe, it discusses trends in the UK and the Dutch market, as well as some cases in more detail.

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