Department Store vs. Shopping Mall

What's the Difference?

Department stores and shopping malls are both popular destinations for shoppers looking to purchase a variety of goods in one location. However, department stores typically offer a more curated selection of products within specific categories, such as clothing, home goods, and beauty products. On the other hand, shopping malls house a diverse range of stores and services, including department stores, specialty shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. While department stores provide a more focused shopping experience, shopping malls offer a one-stop destination for all of your shopping and entertainment needs.


AttributeDepartment StoreShopping Mall
SizeUsually smallerUsually larger
Number of storesLess varietyMore variety
FocusSpecific departmental focusGeneral shopping experience
LayoutUsually multi-levelSingle or multi-level
Anchor storesUsually have anchor storesAlways have anchor stores

Further Detail

Store Layout

Department stores typically have a single large building with multiple floors, each dedicated to a different category of products. The layout is usually organized by department, making it easy for shoppers to navigate and find what they are looking for. In contrast, shopping malls consist of multiple stores under one roof, with each store having its own layout and design. This can sometimes make it more challenging for shoppers to find specific items, as they may need to visit multiple stores to locate what they need.

Selection of Products

Department stores tend to offer a wide range of products within each category, providing shoppers with a variety of options to choose from. This can be convenient for those looking to purchase multiple items in one place. On the other hand, shopping malls offer a diverse selection of stores, each specializing in a specific type of product. While this allows for more specialized shopping experiences, it may require shoppers to visit multiple stores to find everything they need.


Department stores often have a more formal and upscale atmosphere, with well-dressed employees and elegant displays. This can create a sense of luxury and sophistication for shoppers. Shopping malls, on the other hand, tend to have a more casual and relaxed atmosphere, with a mix of stores catering to different tastes and preferences. This can make malls a more laid-back and enjoyable place to shop for some individuals.

Entertainment Options

Shopping malls are known for offering a wide range of entertainment options, such as movie theaters, arcades, and food courts. This can make malls a popular destination for families and groups of friends looking for a fun day out. Department stores, on the other hand, typically focus solely on retail shopping and may not offer as many entertainment options. This can make department stores a better choice for those looking for a more focused shopping experience.

Food Options

Shopping malls often have a variety of dining options, ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants. This can make malls a convenient choice for shoppers looking to grab a bite to eat while they shop. Department stores, on the other hand, may have limited food options, such as cafes or snack bars. While this can be sufficient for a quick snack, it may not offer as much variety as what is available in a shopping mall.


Department stores are typically located in standalone buildings or within shopping centers, making them easily accessible by car or public transportation. This can make department stores a convenient option for shoppers who prefer to drive or take public transportation. Shopping malls, on the other hand, are often located in busy commercial areas with ample parking and public transportation options. This can make malls a convenient choice for shoppers looking to visit multiple stores in one location.

Overall Shopping Experience

Both department stores and shopping malls offer unique shopping experiences that cater to different preferences and needs. Department stores provide a focused and upscale shopping experience, with a wide selection of products and a formal atmosphere. Shopping malls, on the other hand, offer a more casual and diverse shopping experience, with a variety of stores, entertainment options, and dining choices. Ultimately, the choice between a department store and a shopping mall will depend on individual preferences and shopping habits.

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