Nordstrom Inc. recently entered into a joint venture with Topshop, a British fast-fashion retailer. Nordstrom is giving Topshop goods a high profile presence in its stores, including installing the brand’s signature neon signs and matte white mannequins. In an industry completely dominated by the top players, Nordstrom may just be playing follow-the-leader. More than 40 percent of Macy’s merchandise is now from exclusive or limited-distribution brands. JCPenney is embarking on a four-year plan to devote space to as many as 100 branded boutiques within its stores.

Chain Store Guide’s database of Department Stores ranks all of the mentioned department store retailers in the top twenty by sales and unit count. Nordstrom competes with a higher average price point and fewer units but larger sales per square foot. High-end retailers like Nordstrom target a more specific audience and certain partnerships. Chains like Macy’s and JCPenney, with larger market share, target a larger audience and seek more partnerships.

Neiman Marcus Inc. announced a collaboration with discount-retailer Target Corp. on a limited-edition collection for the holidays, which will launch at all of the brands’ retail locations, as well as and Lord & Taylor, a much smaller competitor that still appears in Chain Store Guide’s top twenty, signed on as the exclusive retail sponsor for this season of Project Runway. This hit show focuses on up-and-coming designers and their personal collections.

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