Companies in this industry operate physical retail establishments that sell items such as clothing, cosmetics, footwear, and home furnishings, typically from registers within individual departments. Major companies include Dillard's, JCPenney, Macy's, and Sears (all based in the US), as well as Debenhams and Marks & Spencer (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Galeria Kaufhof (Germany), Galeries Lafayette (France), and Tokyu Department (Japan).
Consumer spending and fashion trends drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on effective merchandising and marketing. Large companies have advantages in purchasing, distribution, and marketing. Small companies can compete effectively by offering unique merchandise, providing superior customer service, or delivering a distinctive store experience. The industry is highly concentrated: the top eight companies generate about 95 percent of industry revenue.
Major products sold include apparel (about 55 percent of sales) and cosmetics, footwear and appliances (8 percent, 7 percent, and 7 percent of sales, respectively). Apparel includes women's, men's, and children's clothing. Cosmetics include makeup, skin care, hair care, and fragrances. Appliances include refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. Companies may also sell kitchenware, bedding, towels, and sheets. Services include gift wrapping, delivery, appliance installation, and personal shopping.Buy Now