Is the Retail Flagship Dead?

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman
At Nike's New York City flagship, the Nike Speed Shop delivers NYC favorites and reserved locker pickup.

Physical purchases in stores today often start with shoppers educating themselves online about products, prices, and more. Does this pose a threat to the flagship store?

Traditionally, the flagship store has been a way to promote a brand's image and tell its story, more about marketing and branding rather than sales. This means that having a large store in the most expensive part of town, offering the same experience as any other store, might no longer make sense, writes Business Insider in a recent article.

"New generations of consumers do a lot of product discovery online or via social media. This means expensive flagships are less relevant than they once were," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in an email to Business Insider.

This may be evidenced by recent flagship closures. At least in New York it seems that way. Calvin Klein plans to shutter its Madison Avenue flagship this spring, while Lord & Taylor closed its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in January and Gap's Fifth Avenue location and former flagship closed in December. Ralph Lauren closed its Fifth Avenue Polo flagship store in 2017. Meanwhile, digitally native retailers such as Bonobos, Glossier, Everlane, and Casper are opening innovative new store concepts.

To review how the flagship is evolving and how Nike and Nordstrom are figuring out how to make their flagship stores relevant, read the full story, “Retailers from Gap to Lord & Taylor are giving up on their flagship stores — and experts say others will have to make big changes to keep the store model from dying."

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