- Ross Stores recently completed its plans to add nearly 100 stores to its footprint this year.
- The off-price retailer opened 42 stores in the past two months, bringing the total for 2019 to 98, according to a company press release. Of the most recent openings, 30 were Ross Dress for Less stores and 12 were dd's Discounts. Nine of the new locations were in Midwestern states that represent a newer market for the retailer: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and Ohio.
- Jim Fassio, Ross president and chief development officer, said in a statement that "we remain confident in our ability to grow to 2,400 Ross Dress for Less and 600 dd's DISCOUNTS locations over time." The most recent openings bring the company's total footprint to 1,811 stores.
This is the second year in a row that Ross has aimed to add another 100 stores to its footprint. Meanwhile, department stores and mall-based fashion sellers are on their heels, facing sales and margin declines and looking to shrink their store base to match deflated demand. Many even face possible bankruptcy. But the off-price retailer keeps bulldozing ahead.
For department stores, that same sales period proved "bleak," according to Moody's analysts, with "tepid at best" sales and compressing margins. Worse, the sputtering sales and projected declines in operating profit follows major investments by department stores into new technology and other turnaround efforts.
With rock-bottom pricing and a "treasure-hunt" proposition, off-price is still expanding and taking share from department stores and other retailers. While questions remain over how long the times will go on for the sector, the major off-price players are still posting strong numbers.
The trend is strong enough that it has swept up some department store players with it. A major feature of Macy's go-forward strategy is its own off-price offer, Backstage, which Macy's is racing to build out in its full-line stores to boost their productivity. Another department store retailer, Stage Stores, recently announced it was converting its entire business to off-price via its Gordmans banner.