We went shopping at one of New York City's most famous department stores as it prepares to close for good. Here's what it was like.

Business Insider/Jessica TylerLord & Taylor’s flagship store will be closed by the end of the year.
  • Lord & Taylor is closing its flagship store on Fifth Avenue after more than 100 years in business.

  • Parent company Hudson’s Bay announced last October that WeWork had purchased the building that the flagship store is located in for $US850 million.
  • Hudson’s Bay reported in September that its overall comparable sales declined 0.4% in the most recent quarter. As many as 10 more Lord & Taylor stores are expected to close through 2019.
  • We visited the century-old Lord & Taylor as it was beginning its clearance sales and returned 10 days later. Here’s what it’s like now.

Lord & Taylor is closing its flagship store on Fifth Avenue after more than 100 years in business.

Parent company Hudson’s Bay, which also owns Saks Fifth Avenue, said it expects to close up to 10 of its nearly 50 Lord & Taylor locations through 2019.

Moving into the flagship store will be WeWork, which is purchasing the space for $US850 million.

Hudson’s Bay reported in September that its overall comparable sales declined 0.4% in the most recent quarter.

Like many other department stores, Lord & Taylor has struggled for a number of reasons. The rise of e-commerce, declining foot traffic to malls, and a higher demand for off-price products are just some of the factors that have caused department stores to suffer in recent years. Several department-store chains, including both Macy’s and JCPenney, have recently closed locations across the country as they struggle to adapt to shoppers’ changing habits.

Even though its flagship store is closing, Lord & Taylor is working with Walmart and launching a dedicated shop on the retailer’s website. The new shop features products from more than 125 brands that are more upscale than the typical Walmart offering.

The department store will be open through the holidays, scaling back its iconic window decorations from six displays to just two.

Business Insider visited the iconic Lord & Taylor at the beginning of its clearance sales and 10 days later, and it had already undergone a staggering transformation. Here’s what it’s like to visit now:


Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue had massive “final sale” signs in all of the windows outside the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Above the doorway were more “everything must go” sale signs.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

When we visited the store as it was beginning its clearance sales, it was bright and spotlessly clean, and there were sale signs everywhere.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Cosmetics and accessories were on the first floor. All of the accessories were 10% off the lowest ticketed price.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The discount was on top of an already lowered price for most products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

On our first trip, jewellery was also 30% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Throughout the store, there were signs showing how much 30% off each price is.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

By the time we came back, there were even deeper sales on most of the jewellery.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

And watch brands that wouldn’t usually participate in sales were going for 25% off their lowest ticketed price.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Some watches, like those made by Michele, were nearly sold out. Others, like TAG Heuer, still had plenty to choose from.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The second floor was where women’s shoes were located. It was a mess — everything was organised by size, but open boxes were just laid out on tables everywhere.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It reminded us more of an off-price store than a high-end department store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Just 10 days later, the shoe floor was even more chaotic.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Shoes were either on the floor or in the wrong boxes. We’d find a Rebecca Minkoff box lying open with one boot in it, and the other half of the pair would be half-slung into another box with a totally different pair of shoes.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The whole scene took the wonder-filled magic out of shopping for high-end shoes.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

For the on-trend shoppers who were looking to get a deal on Adidas, Puma, Superga, and Nike, may the odds be ever in their favour. There were tables and tables of unorganized chaos.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

And the Nike display looked like it had been totally ransacked.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Also on the second floor were some random women’s clothes. There were jeans, T-shirts, athletic wear, and shorts.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

When we visited again, the jeans were all on carousels and were marked down an additional 10%.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The additional 10% sign had been slapped on a lot of different racks and bins across the store since our first visit.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

At the top of the escalator to the third floor was a sign advertising fixtures and store equipment that were for sale.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The third floor had small displays dedicated to brands like BCBG Max Azria, Theory, and Free People. Everything was at least 20% off, if not more.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were some empty displays scattered around the store …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and some clothing racks left in the middle of aisles.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Everything felt very cluttered. The aisles were all close together, and the clothing racks seemed completely random. There were very few actual displays left.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

While some parts of the store were very cluttered, others felt pretty empty.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The fourth floor was very similar to the third. It was very cluttered and carried a little bit of everything.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a display by the customer service desk with ground coffee, water, and other small products. There wasn’t a ton left to choose from.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The floor that carried formal dresses had tons of deals like the rest of the store. There were no more elegant displays like there once was — just endless clothing racks.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even the most high-end evening wear was 20% off.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

There was a floor that was split between athletic and swimwear and winter coats. Everything was very cluttered and disorganized, and a lot of things were up to 40% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

During our revisit, we noticed the irony surrounding the yoga display — these signs seem anything but zen.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

And those little “Take an extra 10% off clearance” signs reappeared on the racks of fur coats, stoles, and vests — some of which were upward of $US3,500.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Even though a majority of the products for sale cost over $US100, it didn’t have a very high-end feel because of the clutter and massive clearance signs.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In the 10 days between our first and second trips, more signs appeared.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

They were hanging from the ceiling on almost every floor.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The Sarabeth’s cafe upstairs was still open.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The men’s floor was a bit more put-together than the rest of the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It had displays from brands like Brooks Brothers and Polos.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The top floor was already starting to be cleared out.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were huge empty spaces, and half of the floor was sectioned off. There were stacks of boxes behind the curtains.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Displays were being dismantled.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Most of the clothing that was left there was crammed into one corner of the store on cluttered racks.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though some areas of the store, like the makeup department, were still fully intact, the store didn’t feel very high-end anymore. There were sale signs on almost every display and lots of cluttered inventory throughout.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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