Department stores hit the nerve of their time when they are built in the middle of the 19th century. With industrialization and the beginning of mass consumption, new social needs are also emerging. Innovations in production techniques lead to faster production and larger quantities. This results in price reductions. A large selection of different types of goods from different countries are united under one roof - without any compulsion to consume.
Department stores are entering new dimensions for the retail trade and are leading to a new sales system: fixed prices, bulk purchases, smaller margins, marketing concepts and, last but not least, an assortment in a mostly pompous building that encourages customers to enter. The shopping experience is a completely new one and will become the emblem of the developing consumer society. They are often financed by financial institutions. After all, the management of the buildings requires an increased amount of capital.
Parisian department store culture, the "cathedrals of commerce"
The origins of Europe's luxury department stores lie in France. More precisely, in Paris. In 1883, the French writer Émile Zola describes Parisian department stores as "cathedrals of commerce". The capital of France is a metropolis for luxury goods since the time of the Sun King Lous XIV.
USA: «The Magic of Macy’s»
It is not only on the European continent that department store fever begins, but also overseas, in the land of unlimited opportunities. Macy's is founded in 1858 on 6th Avenue in New York by Rowland H. Macy. His cousin, Margaret Getchell, is an accountant in the company and supports him in setting up the department store. She is also responsible for the training of the so-called "cash girls". With her ideas, she makes the department store flourish and is further promoted. Later, she takes a leadership position in the company. In 1922, R.H. Macy & Company, Inc. becomes a public company and expands throughout the country. On the share the parent company at Herald Square in 1919 is visible.
And what about Switzerland?
In January 2023, the news shocks that the traditional house Jelmoli would close its doors in 2024 after 190 years of consumer history