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European department stores are set to offer a more premium product range as they start to feel the pinch in their traditional middle market. Latest research from MINTEL finds that the mixed goods sector (which includes department stores) in the seven most sophisticated European department store markets grew by less than 1% (0.6%) between 2001 and 2006, to reach 73.6 billion Euros. This slow growth has been the result of increasing competition from other types of retailers, such as grocery multiples, discounters and hypermarkets.But the future does look brighter. MINTEL forecasts that over the next five years retail sales in this sector could see some 12% growth, reaching 82.7 billion Euros by 2011, with a more up-market approach by key European department stores set to be instrumental in this improved growth.