Value propels companies to the top of soft goods retailers gaining market share in 2017. TJX Cos. is right there at the top, followed by luxury mini-conglomerate Tapestry and Ross Stores, the rival to which TJX is most frequently compared.
TJX’s Marmaxx division, comprised of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, has made some nods toward ecommerce, but its bread and butter is still in stores packed with off-price merchandise and carrying a department store aura.
Sales at Marmaxx stores strengthened through 2017, leading to a 3 percent increase in same store sales during the fourth quarter. For 2018, CEO Ernie Herman is projecting a corporate-wide 2 percent gain in comps. Part of the optimism is based on consolidation and contraction in the full-price apparel segment, which is providing “abundant opportunities” for obtaining quality merchandise at bargain prices.
Ross Stores continues to open physical stores in both its Ross Dress for Less format and the even deeper discounter dd’s Discounts chain. “We continue to believe there is plenty of opportunity to further expand our store base, given consumers’ ongoing focus on value, and remain confident that over the long-term Ross can grow to 2,000 locations and dd’s can become a chain of 500 stores,” says Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer of Ross Stores.
In head-to-head comparisons, Ross has been outperforming Marmaxx in terms of same store sales gains in recent quarters. Ross has lower prices: In one study, Cowen & Co. found that the average garment at TJ Maxx cost between $14 and $15, while at Ross it was only $10.