News broke last week that Debenhams, one of the UK’s biggest department store chains, is closing 50 stores. I worked as a sales girl at Debenhams in Oxford Street during my art student years and I loved it. I worked with amazing people, liked selling and would pop across the road to the Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf exhibitions at the Anthony d’Offay gallery in my lunch hour.
I haven’t really shopped there as an adult, other than occasionally for beauty or pots and pans. I’m more of a high-end heritage shopper or I go to the minimalist stores like Cos and Arket. But it’s a serious warning sign that retail really is changing. Debenhams’ competitors like John Lewis & Partners and Selfridges have been much better at creating a modern lifestyle destination, which taps into the idea that stores aren’t only for shopping. (more…)