Sandra Jones in Crain’s points out, and Sandra Guy in the Sun-Times insinuates, that Federated’s decision not to terminate Lord & Taylor’s 54 stores puts the writing on the wall for Marshall Field’s 60 stores. Simply put, Federated’s goal above all else is to make Macy’s the national department store, a feat never before accomplished in a marketplace where local names once held tremendous sway. Field’s three principal markets–Chicago, Detroit, and the Twin Cities — are too important to that strategy, and if L&T stands in those markets, then Macy’s only entr�e will be to replace Field’s. Both are boutique operations compared with what will soon be 730 Macy’s, and Federated clearly thinks that Macy’s can trade at the same upper-middle level as Field’s.
And thus, within the span of a few years, Federated will have killed off maybe 1,600 years of American retailing history, wiping out the pride and joy of the gentries of a score of cities. All replaced, of course, by a trio of names from the self-proclaimed Capital of the World.
The list of store closings will open up a few choice mall opportunities (UTC in San Diego, King of Prussia, Burlington and Natick near Boston, and a bunch of those dual Robinsons-Mays in Southern California) but oddly doesn’t affect any of the half-dozen downtowns (e.g., Boston or Los Angeles or St. Louis, where Famous-Barr does almost no trade) which might have feared store closings.