Ross Stores on Monday said it opened 21 Ross Dress for Less and seven dd's Discounts stores in 15 states in June and July.
The new stores are part of its ongoing plans to add some 70 Ross and 20 dd's locations this year, according to a company press release.
In its first quarter, the company’s sales rose 7% to $3.3 billion as same-store sales rose 3%. After opening 88 net stores in the past 12 months, the company had 1,561 stores open at the end of that period.
Ross’ first quarter, like rival TJX Cos., represented something of a slow-down that hasn’t been characteristic of the off-price apparel sector, even in the current tough environment. But, despite the chatter these days that the U.S. landscape is over-run with retail stores, physical locations remain important when it comes to off-price, according to GlobalData Retail analyst Håkon Helgesen.
In fact, stores may become even more important to off-price retail companies if their same-store sales growth continue to slow down. Ross’s own Q2 guidance suggested that’s likely, Helgesen noted in an email to Retail Dive regarding the company’s Q1 results. That makes physical stores that much more important for Ross, he said.
“[W]e believe that these remain a vital route to growth for off-price players, and see no reason why Ross should slow the pace of development," Helgesen said. "Arguably new stores will become even more important for driving the business if comparable sales growth continues to moderate.”
Ross' new openings include an expansions to new markets as well as within existing ones in California, Texas and Florida, Ross President and Chief Development Officer Jim Fassio said in a statement. The company opened its 200th dd's store in Pennsylvania, a new market for that banner. "We continue to believe that over the long-term, Ross can grow to 2,000 locations and dd's can become a chain of 500 stores," Fassio said.
Analysts don’t expect the sluggishness to persist for the off-price retailer, in part because non-apparel categories like home goods continue to perform well and because Ross continues its merchandising improvements in women’s apparel.