A department store is a retail establishment with a building open to the public which offers a wide range of consumer goods such as clothing, housewares, furniture and appliances. It typically offers a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in different product categories (known as "departments" hence the name). Department stores usually sell products including clothing, furniture, home appliances, toys, cosmetics, 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 and baby and pet needs. Certain department stores are further classified as discount stores. Big-box stores and hypermarkets have become a modern equivalent to historical department stores. Department stores have a supermarket-type central customer checkout area near the front of the store, or alternatively, sales counters within each department. Department stores are usually part of a retail chain of many stores situated around a country or several countries. Some may be independent retailers, existing entirely independent or as licensed dealers. History
The origins of the department store lay in the growth of the conspicuous consumer society at the turn of the 19th century. As economic growth, fuelled by the Industrial Revolution, steadily expanded through the nineteenth century, the affluent bourgeois middle-class grew in size and wealth. This urbanized social group, sharing a culture of consumption and changing fashion, was the catalyst for the emergence of the retail revolution of the period. As rising prosperity and social mobility increased the number of people with disposable income in the late Georgian period, window shopping was transformed into a leisure activity and entrepreneurs, like the potter Josiah Wedgwood, pioneered the use of marketing techniques to influence the prevailing tastes and preferences of...
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