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1950's Saw Decline of Downtown Department Stores

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, December 30, 2009, at 11:01AM
Department Store Sales Los Angeles Times / December 27, 1959

This graph shows how Downtown department store sales declined in the 1950s even as sales across the metropolitan area grew.

During the first half of the 20th century, Downtown's department stores were the place to shop for Los Angeles residents. Buyers would come from far and wide, either via the streetcars or their own personal autos.

Then, in the 1950's, that changed. This graph from the L.A. Times, published on December 27, 1959, shows the drastic divergence of Downtown and region-wide sales in the decade.

Up until 1947, department store sales in the Los Angeles - Long Beach metropolitan area were pretty much all Downtown. Only a dozen years later, Downtown sales had fallen by nearly 40% even as regional sales had nearly doubled.

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