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As Other Retailers Retreat, Ross Aims for 3,000 Stores

In a time when most bricks-and-mortar stores are struggling and going dark in large numbers, Ross Stores Inc. is on the march - and it's doing it without selling anything online.

Photo Courtesy of CoStar.

The off-price retailer is 60% of the way through its long-term bid to become a truly national chain.

The company just wrapped up its 2019 expansion plan, which called for 98 new locations and $200 million in capital spending.

The company operates two brands, Ross Dress For Less and dd's Discounts, and opened 42 new stores in 19 different states over September and October.

Ross' total footprint now includes 1,811 stores in 39 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

Ross is already the biggest of the off-price retail companies, which include competitors like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Its end goal is to have 3,000 locations.

Despite the importance of “experiential” shopping experiences, discount retail is one sector that doesn’t offer much of a feel-good in-store encounter but is still ringing up gangbuster sales and opening new stores.

Off-price apparel and home-fashion chains such as Nordstrom Rack, Ross Stores, TJ Maxx, Aldi Foods and HomeGoods, have expanded at rapid rates in recent years.

Its success is buoyed by shoppers who are looking for the best bang for their buck.

Its latest quarter reported net earnings of $413 million. Overall sales grew 6% year-over-year, to $4 billion.

The company did this without the internet and has no plans to. It appears to be absolutely unfazed by the exponential growth of e-retail.

The stores' appeal rests in its low prices and the unpredictability of its offerings, which are sourced from wholesalers trying to offload excess merchandise meant for full-priced retailers.

CEO Barbara Rentler described the Ross experience as a "treasure hunt," a real-life experience that would be difficult to replicate online.

Goldman Sachs downgraded its assessment of their stock, because of its vulnerability to disruption of the retail supply chain, which could become a factor if the trade war between the Trump administration and China worsens.

The company argues that even President Trump's threat to impose tariffs on China could benefit Ross.

Historically similar disruptions have worked out well for off-price stores, which get an influx of new supply and customers looking for deals.

2019 CoStar.

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