It seems obvious to me that the traditional, old line, department stores have been replaced by *malls*. No, it's not one big store with clothing, furniture, housewares, and whatnot all under one name, but effectively the malls today have all the same stuff in a series of small independent or chain stores under one roof. It's better in some ways because there will be competing stores in a mall selling similar merchandise, while a department store does not have competing departments.
So, it seems that malls have both centralized and de-centalized the retail industry at the same time. The telecom industry seems to be working its way toward that same kind of situation.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.