Regardless of the potential of department stores in Portugal, the concept is struggling to gain ground. While in other European countries department stores are doing well, in Portugal the shopping centre concept is more established, with this serving to hamper the stronger growth of this channel.
Portugal is a popular tourist destination. Cities such as Porto, Lisbon, Braga and Évora attract tourists from the UK, France, Germany, China, Brazil and Russia, among other countries.
Sales of luxury goods in Portugal have risen in recent years, with this being an important category for department stores such as El Corte Inglés and Marques Soares. Regardless of increasing competition from online players such as Farfetch and Showroomprive, which offer lower prices on luxury items, department stores are investing heavily in this space.
El Corte Inglés continued to dominate the department store channel in 2018. This position can be attributed largely to strong marketing and communication activities as well as the positioning of its stores in Vila Nova de Gaia and Lisbon, two of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal.
Marques Soares is considered to be a pioneer of the department store concept in Portugal. The retailer opened its first store in 1960 and initially focused its business strategy on the sale of woven garments, knitwear and shirts.
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