After disrupting the business of department stores for years, Amazon has decided to join them. The company plans to open department stores that will be much larger than the 4-star stores it already operates but about one-third the size of a typical Sears, the Wall Street Journal reports. There's plenty of retail space for Amazon to choose from: coinciding with the rise of Amazon, department stores have fallen in retail sales share from 10% to less than 1% in the past few decades. A retail analyst said that Amazon's move makes sense—citing the success of Target—and that the decline of large stores isn't its fault. "Traditional US department stores have been the author of their own demise by their failure to [innovate] and adapt," said Neil Saunders of Global Data, per the BBC. Amazon also took on stores when it bought Whole Foods in 2012.
Amazon's plans aren't final, per the Journal, and the company called reports about them "speculation." Department store sales are rebounding from the pandemic shutdown, and Amazon executives say store displays will help sell products. "Amazon knows that the future of retail is multichannel," Saunders said, adding that "most consumers still shop using a combination of stores and online." Clothing will be an emphasis; Amazon now sells more clothes than any other company. It's not clear how warmly rival retailers will welcome Amazon to the neighborhood. When Amazon's first bookstore opened in Seattle, the British company Waterstones expressed hope that the new store "falls flat on its face." Ohio and California are two places slated for the new Amazon stores. (Read more Amazon stories.)