Department stores can be characterized as innovative forms of retailing established in the nineteenth century. The basic business idea was to sell a broad range of goods with low profit margins and high turnover in purposely built multistory buildings. Goods were displayed and sold for fixed and ticketed prices, as opposed to the traditional practice of bargaining and selling from behind the counter. Whereas, in older shops, entry implied an obligation of purchase, department stores invited the public to look around regardless of the intention of buying.

The classic department stores of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been extensively studied beyond the field of business history and became a kind of historical laboratory for the analysis of the early consumer society. The stores came ...

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