They also featured in a recent survey by Allegra Strategies “How Women Shop!” with 23% of the 1000 women interviewed having shopped in Debenhams in the last three months, making it the second most popular store – a tie with Next.
What’s risible is that part of the survey spoke to industry experts to get their take on things, and when the industry experts were asked which brands needed the most improvement, Debenhams also featured on that list too!
Of course, the industry peeps cast a more critical eye and know it could be so much better (can’t everything?), but this hasn’t seemed to affect the actual customers. The respondent women* don’t appear to mind its imperfections.
In fact they like it there a lot. As we spend so much mental time chasing the aspirational and sexy few, it’s easy to forget the masses.
So if Selfridges is the equivalent of a well cut suit, pressed and perfect, is Debenhams the equivalent of a comfy sweater – unintimidating and reliable with a reassuring few holes? Hardly surprising then to hear that Selfridges won the 2008 Time Out Shopping Awards for Best Department Store – it seems that Time Out readers prefer their department stores well cut and pressed.
Of course there is an exception. I was mooching around the new Debenhams in Liverpool yesterday, putting the final touches on our fantastic new Shop in Shop, which opens this week in the Paradise Street and have to say it is most definitely cut from a different more premium cloth.
The Paradise Project is a mindboggling city centre development of 42 acres mostly retail-led, arguably set to catapult Liverpool into the stratosphere and make 2008’s City of Culture into the only shopping destination in the north.
Inside I was blown away by how modern and contemporary it was, all clean lines, slick materials and space, a new era of Debenhams. Back to my analogy, I think in this instance the sweater is a cashmere one.
*not sure what the split of age/type of women - can only assume it was a spread indicative of the UK market.