To protect themselves from fickle consumers and uncertain economic times, retailers are using acquisitions of specialty shops as a form of insurance. Deals such as Gap Inc.’s (NYSE: GAP) $130 million purchase of retail chain Intermix Holdco Inc. in January allow middle-market companies to break into new segments of the market. (For more, see the video below with Hadley Mullin of TSG Consumer Partners.)

Through September, 2013 has been a big year for department store deals, with about $9 billion in deal value according to data from Dealogic and provided by investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. The year through September has seen nearly $21 billion in total retail M&A activity, which includes department store deals.

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