As John Lewis embarks upon a strategic review of its business and coronavirus hammers department store sales, Retail Week takes a deeper dive to investigate the challenges and opportunities across the UK department store sector.
There is no doubt that department stores have been at the sharp end of the pressures in UK retail over the past couple of years. A drop in footfall and consumer spending together with rising business rates have combined to impact retailers across the board, but it appears that department stores have suffered more than most.
With current coronavirus concerns keeping people away from the high street, this is a trend that we can only expect to accelerate. This week, Debenhams called for a five-month rent holiday from landlords to help it deal with disruption. Meanwhile, Selfridges is shortening store opening hours to mitigate the spread of the virus. Even John Lewis Partnership is not immune from market pressures and last week unveiled plans for a strategic review of its business.
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