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Discount Store vs. Department Store: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 10, 2023
A discount store offers products at lower prices, typically with a focus on value, while a department store offers a wide range of products and brands, often at standard retail prices.

Key Differences

Discount stores prioritize low prices, often by reducing overhead costs and offering fewer services. In contrast, department stores focus on a broad range of products, including higher-end and branded items, with an emphasis on customer service.
The merchandise in discount stores is typically more generic or less branded, aiming to offer the best value for money. Department stores, however, offer a diverse array of brands, from budget to luxury, catering to a wider range of customer preferences.
Department stores are known for their organized layout, with different sections or ‘departments’ for various product categories. Discount stores often have a more utilitarian layout, focusing on simplicity and accessibility.
Customer experience in department stores often includes personalized services, such as sales assistance, returns, and exchanges. Discount stores, meanwhile, tend to have a more self-service approach to reduce costs.
Department stores often feature special services like personal shopping, beauty services, and in-store cafes. Discount stores generally do not offer these amenities, focusing instead on the efficiency of the shopping experience.

Comparison Chart

Pricing Strategy

Lower prices, value-focused.
Standard retail prices, diverse price ranges.

Product Range

Generic or less branded items.
Wide range, including branded and luxury items.


Utilitarian and straightforward.
Organized into various departments.

Customer Service

Primarily self-service.
Personalized services, including assistance.

Additional Amenities

Few to none, focus on efficiency.
Often includes special services and in-store cafes.

Discount Store and Department Store Definitions

Discount Store

A shop prioritizing value and affordability.
The discount store was his go-to for budget-friendly groceries.

Department Store

A large store offering a wide variety of merchandise.
The department store had an impressive selection of designer clothes.

Discount Store

A store with a no-frills, value-oriented approach.
The discount store's simple layout made shopping quick and easy.

Department Store

A store providing a range of products and brands.
The department store was known for its exclusive beauty products.

Discount Store

A retail store offering goods at lower prices.
She found her favorite shampoo at a lower price in the discount store.

Department Store

A shopping venue with diverse offerings and services.
She used the personal shopping service at the department store.

Discount Store

Retailer focusing on cost-effective products.
They bought all their camping gear from a local discount store.

Department Store

A retailer offering both budget and premium products.
The department store catered to all tastes, from economical to luxury.

Discount Store

A shopping destination for economical purchases.
She appreciated the discount store for its affordable home essentials.

Department Store

A retail establishment with multiple departments.
They spent the afternoon exploring the various sections of the department store.


Can I find electronics in a discount store?

Yes, but the range and brands might be more limited compared to a department store.

What defines a discount store?

A discount store offers products at lower prices with a focus on value.

Are discount stores smaller than department stores?

Generally, yes, discount stores tend to be smaller with a more limited range of products.

Are department stores more expensive?

They can be, as they often carry branded and higher-end products.

Do department stores offer personal shopping services?

Many department stores offer personal shopping and other specialized services.

What is a department store?

A department store is a large retail establishment with various departments offering a wide range of products.

Do department stores offer luxury brands?

Yes, department stores often carry a range of brands, including luxury ones.

Are the products in discount stores of lower quality?

Not necessarily, but they may offer more generic or less branded items.

Can I return products at a department store?

Yes, department stores typically have customer-friendly return and exchange policies.

Do discount stores have sales?

Yes, discount stores also have sales, further reducing their prices.

Do department stores have food courts or restaurants?

Many large department stores have in-store cafes or restaurants.

Can I find home appliances in a discount store?

Yes, but the selection might be more limited than in a department store.

Do department stores sell online?

Most department stores have online shopping options.

Do discount stores offer food items?

Some do, particularly larger discount retail chains.

Do discount stores offer clothing?

Yes, but the variety and brands may be limited compared to department stores.

Do department stores have loyalty programs?

Many department stores offer loyalty programs with benefits for frequent shoppers.

Are there luxury discount stores?

Some discount stores specialize in overstock or last-season luxury goods at reduced prices.

Can I find exclusive products in department stores?

Yes, department stores often have exclusive collections and products.

Are department stores a good place for gift shopping?

Yes, their wide range of products makes them ideal for finding gifts.

Are discount stores always cheaper?

They generally offer lower prices, but it's always good to compare prices.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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