A department store is a retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different product categories known as "departments". In modern major cities, the department store made a dramatic appearance in the middle of the 19th century, and permanently reshaped shopping habits, and the definition of service and luxury. Similar developments were under way in London (with Whiteleys), in Paris (Le Bon Marché in 1852) and in New York (with Stewart's).
Department stores today have sections that sell the following: clothing, furniture, home appliances, toys, cosmetics, houseware, gardening, toiletries, sporting goods, do it yourself, paint, and hardware and additionally select other lines of products such as food, books, jewelry, electronics, stationery, photographic equipment, baby products, and products for pets.
Customers check out near the front of the store or, alternatively, at sales counters within each department. Some are part of a retail chain of many stores, while others may be independent retailers. In the 1970s, they came under heavy pressure from discounters. Since 2010, they have come under even heavier pressure from online stores such as Amazon.
Big-box stores, hypermarkets, and discount stores] are modern equivalent of historical department stores.
- Gunther Barth, "The Department Store," in City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. (Oxford University Press, 1980) pp 110–47,
- Department store entry in Wikipedia