Why is the High Street struggling while Dept Stores thrive?

By Ian Thomson

It's not just about fashion, dahling

The High Street. Not doing so well. The department store? Booming. We’re not going to get into local taxes, dreary rain and other reasons, but would like to applaud the chic imagination of Britain’s department stores. Because it’s not just about the designer fashion, darling. Or the make-up, lingerie, sports gear and picnic tables. The sheer range available is obviously an enormous part of the appeal, but what really draws us in (as well as rain-free shopping) are the genius ways Harvey Nichols and their rivals present products, plus the must-experience in-store events.

At Selfridge’s (where Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco sold out three times in its launch week, and is still Selfridge’s most searched-for online wine brand) the events are stellar. Recent highlights we’ve loved and are loving include live bands during Music Matters week, accessories partnerships with Vogue, and (until 13 May 2018) the Anatomy of Luxury. This brings some of the world’s most radical designers to stores, each for one week only, to provide specially commissioned pieces and one-of-a-kind reissues.

The one-week-only thing is key. Shoppers need to be there in person to benefit, and there’s drastic FOMO (fear of missing out) for those who didn’t snaffle a personalised Diptych candle or catch a new band just before they hit the charts. You can’t do these things online, however comfy your sofa.

All Hail Harvey Nicks...

At Harvey Nichols, where we often pop in for a lipstick only to find ourselves two hours later having met celebrity make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury or having signed up for a Cocktail Masterclass, is another dream department store.

Regular events are beautifully targeted to the seasons and trends, the shopping floors are bright and inviting, and changing rooms make you look good instead of ‘Why didn’t I try this on at home?’ depressed.

We were very excited by their Leeds installation for us this month (pictured here).  Beautifully presented bottles in their clean, edgy bar got us jumping around!

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