Macy's is adopting a strategy from more than 100 years ago to save its business

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Department Stores See Bright Future in NYC

Macy's is closing dozens of stores amid an overall decline in department store shopping.

And now, the retailer might be turning to a century-old strategy to drive sales: opening restaurants, retail expert Warren Shoulberg writes on industry website The Robin Report.

Macy's has an upscale Italian restaurant called Stella 34 Trattoria at its flagship store in Manhattan. Menu items include $22 plates of mushroom linguine and $57 sea bass for two.

The strategy is one that was common 100 years ago, according to Shoulberg.

"Those first merchants of retailing knew what today's generation is having to relearn: that retail stores are more than a place to buy stuff. They are the centerpieces of communities, focal points where people gathered for special occasions, to mark moments in their lives and to celebrate," he writes. "And oh, while they were doing all of that, maybe they bought a new shirt or a frying pan.

Related: Take a look inside Macy's flagship NYC store:

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Macy's flagship Herald Square store
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Macy's is adopting a strategy from more than 100 years ago to save its business
Pedestrians walk through Herald Square past a Macy's Inc. department store in New York, U.S., on Monday, August 10, 2015. Macy's Inc., the largest U.S. department-store company, is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings before the opening of U.S. financial markets on August 12. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph shows a corner view of the 1924 addition to the Macy's department store building on 34th Street at Herald Square in Manhattan, New York, 1930s. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
An exterior view of Macy's Department store July 14, 1994. View is from Herald Square in the busy midtown section of New York City at 34th Street. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Shoppers stand outside a packed vestibule entrance to Macy's Herald Square store in New York minutes before the 7 a.m. opening Friday, Dec. 26, 2003. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
397655 01: Shoppers make their way across Herald Square near Macy's department store November 23, 2001 in New York City. The Christmas shopping season started kicked off in the United States the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 22: A holiday scene is depicted in a Macy's at Herald Square department store window during the unveiling of the retailer's holiday windows November 22, 2002 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 28: The Macy's Herald Square entrance is seen February 28, 2005 in New York City. Federated Department Stores Inc. is buying rival May Department Stores Co. for $11 billion in cash and stock in a deal that would enable them to compete against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as well as upscale retailers. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 15: Pedestrians and shoppers pass by the Macy's flagship store at Herald Square in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Macy's Inc., the second-largest department-store chain, reported quarterly profit that exceeded analysts' estimates because of reduced advertising and retirement costs. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 15: Pedestrians and shoppers pass by the Macy's flagship store at Herald Square in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Macy's Inc., the second-largest department-store chain, reported quarterly profit that exceeded analysts' estimates because of reduced advertising and retirement costs. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 05: The New Year's Eve Ball, which will be seen by millions as it descends above Times Square to ring in 2009, is displayed at the Macy's Store in Herald Square November 5, 2008 in New York City. The Waterford Crystal ball is comprised of 672 crystal triangles and is themed 'Let There Be Light.' (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Shoppers look at shirts at Macy's Herald Square department store in New York, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. Shoppers gathered at Best Buy Co., Target Corp. and Toys 'R' Us Inc. stores from New Jersey to Texas well before midnight yesterday to take advantage of Black Friday deals on televisions, laptops and robot hamsters. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images ***
Pedestrians walk past Macy's department store at Herald Square in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. March sales at U.S. retailers probably jumped almost three times as much as previously anticipated, as the early Easter holiday, warm weather and an improved job market boosted consumer spending. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, photo, a shopper takes a selfie as crowds pour into the Macy's Herald Square flagship store in New York. The government reports on sales at U.S. retailers in November on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A shopper rests in the shoe section of the Macy's Herald Square store, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in New York. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving this year. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Shoppers carry bags as they cross a pedestrian walkway near Macy's in Herald Square, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in New York. The early numbers aren't available yet on how many shoppers headed out to stores on Thanksgiving, instead of waiting until today. But it's expected that more than three times the number who shopped yesterday will be out bargain-hunting today.(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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The restaurants attracted shoppers to the store. Once they were there, it was more likely they would buy something.

Macy's is also in the process of opening more discount stores.

CEO Terry Lundgren told CNBCthat the brand is planning to put some of the "Backstage" stores in its existing retail locations this year.

The stores will sell Macy's brands at steeply discounted prices — up to 80% off. This model copies highly successful brands like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack.

The outlet locations would serve as a test of whether the store's new discount outlets will take business away from the higher-priced traditional stores.

"We have to make stores more productive — all of us box stores," Lundgren told CNBC. "Customers buying online have got to find more reasons to visit."

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