Department store

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Department store in Frankfurt am Main

A department store , the operating mode of a retail store , the merchandise from one or a few specific group (s) in high depth of range and depth of range on a sales area m² provides of at least 1,500.


Department stores have a sales area between 1,500 m² and 3,000 m², department stores are equipped with a sales area of ​​at least 3,000 m² and have a greater range and depth . Typical of department stores is their range of food ( English food sector ) and other goods ( English non-food sector ), while department stores do not sell any groceries. The large sales area allows spacious contact routes that lead past the goods.

The most widespread are department stores with textiles (e.g. C&A , H&M , SinnLeffers ) and with electrical appliances or electronics. The department store is a further development of the specialist shop into a large retail operation. It offers goods from one product group in many designs, price ranges and quality levels. As a rule, department stores also offer various customer services.


The first department stores in Germany were community stores like the one in the Middle Ages from 1317 built department store on fire in Mainz . In the 16th century there was a "department store" in most cities, which (like the department store in Neustadt an der Aisch ) in the lower area had sales benches for butchers, bakers, weavers, furriers etc. and in the upper floor mostly a hall ( for dance and wedding celebrations or to fill up the tithe paid in kind). Depending on the furnishings, such department stores were also called dance houses , wedding houses , bulk houses or department and commercial buildings.

The history of the modern private sector department stores began in Japan of the Edo period . In 1673 the Echigoya department store was founded with the advertising slogan “Genkin kakene nashi” / “Cash sales at fixed prices”, which is now known as Mitsukoshi as the oldest modern department store chain in the world. Matsuzakaya was founded as early as 1611, however, as was customary in the Edo period, it was still sold on credit. Only twice a year, in the Obon season and in winter, were the bills drawn up and paid. Before that, cash was only common in the humble showman and traveling trades. Department stores made it possible for the middle class to spontaneously buy high-quality goods such as clothing without entering into a long business relationship. Even today, in banks, restaurants and Japanese depatos, cash is shamefully handed over in a “karuton” / “carton”, and it is impolite to count.

Independently of this and almost simultaneously, the first department stores were founded in England and the USA. Bennett's hardware store in Derby was founded in 1734. The first full department store, Howell & Co, opened on Pall Mall in London in 1796 . Here it was more the price advantage through high discounts when buying large quantities from manufacturers and imports and the wider range that these department stores owe their success to. Therefore, dealers with small shops ( retail ) tried from the beginning to hinder the expansion of department stores and department stores by legal means. The Galeries Lafayette department store was opened in Paris in 1894 . Rudolph Hertzog opened a house named after him in Berlin in 1839. Harrods opened in London in 1834 .

With the spread of their own specialist shops or franchise businesses of the brand manufacturers, shopping arcades , discounters and retail chains , the smaller retail companies had to accept losses in sales. In the era of the Internet and the resulting price comparison and shopping via computer, department store sales also tend to decline.


Colloquially, the terms department store and department store are often used identically. In commercial management, however , the two types of business are differentiated according to the breadth of the product range . Department stores carry z. B. often a grocery department, department stores not. On the part of the retail companies this is not handled uniformly in the naming, for example the well-known Berlin Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), regardless of its name, has a full range with a large grocery department and is a department store according to the economic definition.

The quality of the goods in the three types of operation cannot be generally differentiated. Specialty shops usually offer very high-quality items with expert advice. Department stores tend to sell goods for average demands, although exceptions are possible here too, such as B. the cultural department store Dussmann in Berlin. Department stores and department stores have upgraded their product range in the last few decades with a higher quality range of goods ( trading up ). In-house department stores and department stores were also supplemented by specialist shops from third-party providers.

The preliminary stage of the department store, the passage , became the subject of a historical-philosophical study by Walter Benjamin ( Das Passagen-Werk ).


  • Wishes come true - the creation of the department store. Documentary, docu-drama , France, 2011, 86 min., Script and direction: Sally Aitken & Christine Le Goff, production: arte France, Telfrance, Essential Viewing, German first broadcast: October 22, 2011 in arte, film information on the website of 3sat on the occasion of a repetition.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Department store  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Department Stores  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hanna Schramm-Klein, Multi-Channel-Retailing , 2003, p. 10
  2. Horst Jordan, Kleines Handbuch des Firmenrechts , 1966, p. 94 f.
  3. Catherine Üçgül, Stefan Grathoff: The building on fire in Mainz: The establishment of the Mainz department store . On: of the Institute for Historical Regional Studies at the University of Mainz , December 9, 2014, accessed on April 9, 2018.
    See also: Gemeinschaftswarenhaus .
  4. ^ Max Döllner : History of the development of the city of Neustadt an der Aisch up to 1933. Ph. C. W. Schmidt, Neustadt a. d. Aisch 1950, OCLC 42823280 ; New edition to mark the 150th anniversary of the Ph. C. W. Schmidt publishing house, Neustadt an der Aisch 1828–1978. Ibid 1978, ISBN 3-87707-013-2 , p. 219 f.
  5. Sven Becker: “Existential Crisis. This is where the German department store rests ” ( memento of April 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), Financial Times Deutschland , April 21, 2009, full article  ( page no longer available , search in web archives ) at Impulse@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  6. M. Scharnigg: “Department stores in need. The terribly mature customer ” , Süddeutsche Zeitung , August 9, 2008
  7. ^ Definition of department store , Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon