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Nordstrom puts the hunt for a buyer on hold

SEATTLE – Nordstrom is halting, at least temporarily, the hunt for a buyer, sending shares down sharply at the opening bell Monday.

The Nordstrom family told a special committee at the upscale retailer that they may start up the search again after the end of the crucial holiday season.

In June, members of the Nordstrom family including co-presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom, said they were weighing the acquisition of 70 percent of the department store’s stock that they don’t already own. That could give Nordstrom more flexibility to navigate a rapidly changing retail environment.

Department stores sales have been under financial pressure as more people shop online, at off-price retailers, or spend less money overall on clothing, which makes up a big part of Nordstrom’s business.

The Seattle retailer has been among the best performers in the department store arena, though its discount stores, called Nordstrom Rack, have been faring better than its department stores.

It is experimenting with new concepts to win back shoppers as well. It just opened a store in Los Angeles that doesn’t have any inventory. It’s being staffed with personal stylists who can order merchandise for customers. Customers can also buy online while inside the store or pick up online orders the same day. The store also offers tailoring and manicure services.

The chain traces its roots back to a Seattle shoe store opened by Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom and a partner in 1901.

Shares of Nordstrom Inc. fell almost 5 percent to $40.80 in early trading.

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