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The most iconic department stores around the world, ranked

By Rosalie Wessel


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Image: Macy's media assets

Department stores have long been a staple in the shopping world. They are the markers of a downtown shopping area, the axis upon which one plans their day out on the town. And despite the rise in online shopping, and downfall of many department stores during the Covid-19 crisis, there are certain giants that continue to be seen as truly iconic fashion hubs.

Property experts Stokemont have put together a core list of famous department stores, using a formula of Instagram hashtags, TikTok views and average global search trend data to determine the rankings. According to that data, here are the ten most iconic department stores in the world.

#1 Macy’s, New York, US

The Macy’s store in New York is an important landmark in one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals. The store, which has almost one million square feet to its name, has appeared in over 50 different movies and television shows according to On Location Tours. Not only is this store iconic within the city, but to a wider audience, it represents the headquarters of shopping in the US.

Average global search volumes: 14,200,000
Instagram hashtags: 1,231,000
TikTok views: 114,300,00

#2 Nordstrom, Seattle, US

The Nordstrom store in Seattle is the retailer’s original flagship. Housing over three hundred brands, it is a mammoth presence in the downtown area. The store is now located in a former Frederick and Nelson building, after moving in 1992. Despite Nordstrom having closed 16 of its physical locations in 2020 amid the pandemic, the flagship remains open and an important landmark within the city.

Average global search volumes: 6,700,000
Instagram hashtags: 1,635,000
TikTok views: 110,000,000

#3 Selfridges, London, England

Located on the famous shopping street, Oxford Street, the flagship Selfridges store is listed as a protected heritage building. The store is also a historical landmark as well as an architectural one. Used as a World War Two base, the department store was used both as a shelter from bombings and the secret location of a phone scrambling machine called Sigsaly, which helped keep D-Day a secret.

Average global search volumes: 1,100,000
Instagram hashtags: 671,000
TikTok views: 74,400,000

#4 Harrods, London, UK

Another London landmark, this 1 million square foot department store has a long and detailed history. First opened in 1824, the store began as a one room shop until it moved to Knightsbridge, where it became one of the city’s foremost retailers. It’s rivalry with Selfridges spans decades - In 1917, Harrods made a bet with the founder of Selfridges, Harry Selfridge, over which store would be the most profitable by the end of the year. When Harrods won, Selfridge commissioned a replica of the store in silver.

Average global search volumes:708,000
Instagram hashtags: 1,554,000
TikTok views: 61,000,000

#5 Bloomingdales, New York, US

First opened in 1860, Bloomingdale’s began as a retailer selling the latest of European fashions. Specialising in more than one garment - an uncommon practice at the time - the Bloomingdale brothers soon moved their growing store to its flagship location, the corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Known for its designer Brown Bags, Christmas window displays and extensive shopping, the department store has become an unmissable stop in New York City.

Average global search volumes: 1,700,000
Instagram hashtags: 342,000
TikTok views: 53,100,000

#6 Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, US

The flagship location for Saks Fifth Avenue is located in Midtown Manhattan in Herald Square, and has been situated there since the store first opened in the early 1900s. Known for its elegant and high end shopping, the department store notably featured a window display by Tommy Goodman during the pandemic in support of New Yorkers, The Cut reported. The architecture of the store is a striking sight, with the building being placed on the Manhattan Landmarks in 1984.

Average global search volumes: 1,300,000
Instagram hashtags: 403,000
TikTok views: 16,700,000

#7 Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France

An architectural feast as well as a fashion one, Galeries Lafayette is well known for its shopping, rich design and food. Containing a new-Byzantine dome designed by artists in the early 20th century, the store is the second most visited monument in Paris after the Eiffel Tower, according to Culture Trip.

Average global search volumes: 1,100,000
Instagram hashtags: 385,000
TikTok views: 17,800,000

#8 David Jones, Melbourne, Australia

The oldest department store in Australia first opened in 1838, only fifty years after the country was colonised. The store has been responsible for fashion advancement in Australia; in 1947, David Jones bought Dior’s New Look collection to the country. This was the first time that Dior had ever shown out of Paris. The brand’s Bourke Street location in Melbourne opened in 1982, during a period of rapid expansion for the brand.

Average global search volumes: 1,400,000
Instagram hashtags: 395,000
TikTok views: 5,100,000

#9 El Corte Inglés, Barcelona, Madrid, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal

El Corte Inglés has its flagship store in Madrid, and its largest store in Lisbon. The only department store group in Spain, it first opened as a tailor’s shop in 1890. Currently, it has 82 stores in Spain and Portugal, with over 630 million visitors a year.

Average global search volumes: 9,900,000
Instagram hashtags: 211,000
TikTok views: 16,900,000

#10 Beymen, Istanbul, Turkey

Originally established as a menswear brand in 1971, this department store grew to become Turkey’s first luxury retailer. Now, the store carries over 900 different designer brands, sells womenswear and menswear, and has around 18 different locations.

Average global search volumes: 387,000
Instagram hashtags: 316,000
TikTok views: 7,800,000

In total, the US and UK ranked highest in terms of most popular department stores in the top 10. Four were in the US, two were in the UK, and five were in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, many of the department stores are so famous due to the architecture and historical significance in its area. Regardless of the slowly turning tide that seems to be sweeping up brick and mortar stores with a relentless pace, these iconic landmarks continue to stand the test of time.

David Jones
El Corte Inglés
Galeries Lafayette
Saks Fifth Avenue