As department store sales continue to fall, journalist Josh Walker explores whether product drop culture will save them.
It’s been well documented that department stores are struggling. According to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), department stores were hit hardest amid the ‘steep drop in retail sales in October 2017’, and US department store sales fell from £66bn ($87bn, €74bn) in 2005 to £45bn ($60bn, €bn) in 2015, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Barneys New York hosted a two-day retail event in partnership with Highsnobiety in October. More than 80 brands were featured and 30 exclusive capsule collections were launched, and designers took part in Q&A sessions and signings.
Thedrop@barneys marks an interesting shift in retail, where department stores are increasingly tapping into the hysteria or ‘hype’ generated by product drop culture. But while this strategy is great for getting mentions on social media and bringing new customers into your store, there’s no denying that its success is based on selling limited amounts of product. It’s restrictive, niche and not optimised for the mass market.
If department stores want to truly capitalise on the hype surrounding product drop culture they shouldn’t just use it to shift products, they should also use it as a tool to understand a new kind of buying power with the potential to pull them back from the brink.
Read the full Opinion here.
Thedrop@barneys by Highsnobiety and Barneys. Photography by BFA