We grew up with the department store. We were dressed there as children and later bought books, bicycles and electronics there ourselves. The department store was part of German consumer culture. But for years it has been dying a slow death. And with the renewed bankruptcy of Galeria, dying accelerates again.
There have been many attempts to stop it. The merger of Karstadt and Kaufhof created the German department store group Galeria, which many had seen as the only way to save the day. The company modernized a number of branches, for example creating a “cosmopolitan store” at the Frankfurt Hauptwache, which really encourages shopping again. But there is another branch 500 meters away, which is empty even on a Saturday afternoon. As in most locations in Germany.
The pandemic, inflation and the energy crisis have played their part in this. But they are not the root of the problem. This is due to changing consumer behavior. On the one hand, online trading takes away sales, on the other hand, the broad mass market is being crushed between low-cost suppliers and luxury chains.
You can complain about that, but you won't change it. It would therefore also be nonsense from an economic point of view to grant Galeria state aid again. It's time to realize that the department store business model is dead, except perhaps for a few prime locations. So let Galeria die. Even more state money could at best delay the end again. But the rule here is: Better an end with horror than horror without end.
Of course, this means a loss for many inner cities, after all, the department stores were formative there for a long time. Without them, public space threatens to become deserted. But the same applies to department stores that no one wants to go to anymore. The solution is to create something new, thereby creating new jobs for the affected Galeria employees and bringing fresh life to the city centre. Structural change is tough, but it is always an opportunity. He can't be stopped.