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‘Barcelona’s department store took me back in time’

I’ve always loved a good department store and last week on a work trip to Barcelona I visited a store operated by Spain’s only department store chain, El Corte Inglés (ECI).

The Barcelona ECI occupies an imposing white building and is seen as the go-to place for tourists and Spanish shoppers alike.

However, the interior took me back in time by about two decades. The idea of showcasing product and complementing ECI’s online business had clearly not yet taken root in Barcelona. Product squeezed onto large shop floors seemed to indicate that ECI relied on the brands to sell themselves.

Little attention seemed to have been paid to brand and product presentation and there was no focus on comfort and service for shoppers.

The visit made me appreciate how vital it is for the survival of department stores to offer an exemplary shopper experience.

Visual merchandising and enough space to showcase brands are as key to the shopping environment in an omnichannel world as mobile apps and click-and-collect.

I’m sure ECI knows this, but clearly the need to focus on the grander flagships in major cities should be prioritised as part of a message that Barcelona is worth visiting for shopping alone.

  • Isabel Cavill, Senior analyst at global intelligence provider Planet Retail

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