Like many other department stores, Lord & Taylor has struggled for a number of reasons in recent years. 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.
Though its flagship store is now closed, 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 remained 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 was like to visit as it prepared to close:
Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue had massive “final sale” signs in all of the windows outside the store.
Above the doorway were more “everything must go” sale signs.
When we visited the store as it was beginning its clearance sales, it was bright and spotlessly clean, and there were sale signs everywhere.
Cosmetics and accessories were on the first floor. All of the accessories were 10% off the lowest ticketed price.
The discount was on top of an already lowered price for most products.
On our first trip, jewellery was also 30% off.
Throughout the store, there were signs showing how much 30% off each price is.
By the time we came back, there were even deeper sales on most of the jewellery.
And watch brands that wouldn’t usually participate in sales were going for 25% off their lowest ticketed price.
Some watches, like those made by Michele, were nearly sold out. Others, like TAG Heuer, still had plenty to choose from.
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.
It reminded us more of an off-price store than a high-end department store.
Just 10 days later, the shoe floor was even more chaotic.
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.
The whole scene took the wonder-filled magic out of shopping for high-end shoes.
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.
And the Nike display looked like it had been totally ransacked.
Also on the second floor were some random women’s clothes. There were jeans, T-shirts, athletic wear, and shorts.
When we visited again, the jeans were all on carousels and were marked down an additional 10%.
The additional 10% sign had been slapped on a lot of different racks and bins across the store since our first visit.
At the top of the escalator to the third floor was a sign advertising fixtures and store equipment that were for sale.
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.
There were some empty displays scattered around the store …
… and some clothing racks left in the middle of aisles.
Everything felt very cluttered. The aisles were all close together, and the clothing racks seemed completely random. There were very few actual displays left.
While some parts of the store were very cluttered, others felt pretty empty.
The fourth floor was very similar to the third. It was very cluttered and carried a little bit of everything.
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.
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.
Even the most high-end evening wear was 20% off.
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.
During our revisit, we noticed the irony surrounding the yoga display — these signs seem anything but zen.
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.
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.
In the 10 days between our first and second trips, more signs appeared.
They were hanging from the ceiling on almost every floor.
The Sarabeth’s cafe upstairs was still open.
The men’s floor was a bit more put-together than the rest of the store.
It had displays from brands like Brooks Brothers and Polos.
The top floor was already starting to be cleared out.
There were huge empty spaces, and half of the floor was sectioned off. There were stacks of boxes behind the curtains.
Displays were being dismantled.
Most of the clothing that was left there was crammed into one corner of the store on cluttered racks.
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.