The makeover department

Macy’s recently announced $400 million renovation isn’t the only upgrade among the city’s retail stalwarts
By Peter Kiefer | December 19, 2011 10:34AM

From the December issue: Manhattan’s department stores are under siege, as shoppers increasingly choose to go online rather than brave the city crowds. Last year, over $15 billion was spent in online shopping during the holiday shopping season, according to the digital research firm comScore, and that figure is expected to jump by as much as 15 percent in 2011.

In response to that and mega-stores like Uniqlo and Top Shop opening throughout the city, old-school department stores — like Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Barneys and Lord & Taylor — have effectively doubled down, upgrading stores to the tune of a half-billion dollars. Indeed, last month Macy’s announced a planned $400 million renovation to its Herald Square flagship.

Over the past few years, department store sales have fallen nationwide, forcing these stalwarts to fight over a smaller share of the pie. As a result, sources say, when one store upgrades, it often creates a “copycat” effect among others who are fearful of looking dated. [more]