Can fresh foods revive department stores?
The department store model could use some fresh ideas. For an upscale department store chain in Australia, one of the ideas they’re trying out is fresh food.
David Jones will soon test an upscale grocery store featuring fresh selections and prepared meals in one of its locations, the Daily Mail reported. The retailer intends for the supermarket to compete at the opposite end of the spectrum from fast-growing, low-price chains such as Aldi. David Jones is also revamping its food courts and, at one location, a new in-store restaurant will open, overseen by a celebrity chef.
Recent news about U.S. department stores has not been promising and mall traffic overall has been heading south.
Making a department store a grocery destination, then, could get people in the door with more frequency than even an in-store restaurant. But upmarket groceries, as David Jones describes stocking, have proven to be a thorny issue recently in the U.S.
A few big luxury department stores have made expensive, high-end groceries available on their websites, which led to viral internet mockery when discovered. The fact that the Neiman Marcus website sells tamales for $92, publicized by GQ, was followed up with a Huffington Post article making fun of items such as a $410 pork roast from Neiman Marcus and a $47.95 24-pack of latkes from Saks.
It’s hard to imagine that such products, at such prices, would bring customers in the retailers’ brick-and-mortar stores for regular shopping trips. But the foodie movement these days seems to be eclipsing any fashion trend out there.
Referencing the popularity of dining out in Australia, Ian Moir, CEO of David Jones parent, Woolworths Holdings, told the Daily Mail, “If you think about it, food is fashion.”
- ‘Food is fashion’: How David Jones plans to become Australia’s fanciest supermarket with a $100MILLION revamp and a Neil Perry restaurant in its flagship Sydney store – Daily Mail
- Why Macy’s and Other Department Stores Are Having a Terrible Week – Fortune
- Can (should) brands do without department stores? – RetailWire
- Neiman Marcus Now Sells Luxury Tamales — Finally! – GQ
- Apparently Neiman Marcus Sells Ridiculously Expensive Food, Including Bougie Tamales – Huffington Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Could fresh or gourmet food be positioned as a traffic driver or differential for department stores in the U.S.? Do you see operators using food in the same way they have used fashion?