The Department Store Shuffle: Rationalization and Change to the Greater Toronto Area
By Dr. Michael J. Doucet
Retailing, the oldest business in the world, is the sale of merchandise to the consumer. The store or shop, of course, is merely the place where this retail distribution of goods takes place. The department store is a large-scale store handling many lines of goods, or, more accurately, it is a combination of single-line stores in which each is operated as a separate department.
No city of any size in the world today is without its department stores. They are a part of the make-up of urban areas just as are the churches, theaters, hotels, art galleries and museums. They are the attractions for the tourist and the focal points for the 'day in town' of the suburban housewife. Generally, they have grown with the communities they serve, from one small shop to the large emporium representing huge capital investment and very often under the same family management as that of the original founder or partners of a hundred or more years ago.
Since the size of the store depends on the size of the trade area, the large department store did not emerge until the turn of the century when increased consumer income and an efficient transit system led to the mass urban market. The block-size Eaton's department store, built in 1909 to serve Toronto's 300,000 residents..... represented the epitome of market concentration.
The purpose of this report is to examine the phenomenon of the department store over time for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).