Ross Stores in a press release Monday said it has completed its fleet expansion for the year with the October opening of 30 Ross Dress for Less and nine dd's Discounts stores across 17 states.
The 66 new stores added this fiscal year is well shy of the 100 or so the off-price retailer had previously planned.
Last year, the company opened 98 stores. The namesake chain now operates 1,594 locations in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, while dd's runs 275 stores in 21 states, per the release.
At a time when many consumers remain leery of shopping indoors even now that stores are open, and despite lackluster or even nonexistent e-commerce operations, off-price retailers nevertheless continue to outpace department stores.
Off-price stores tracked by foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai, which included Kohl's, Ross, Burlington, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, found "significant and impressive rebounds in foot traffic since April," according to an Oct. 1 report. While traffic at an unnamed group of "leading department stores" was down an average of 36.1% year over year during the week of Sept. 7 and 42.4% during the week of Sept. 14, the off-price retailers' footfall was down an average of just 17.9% and 22.6%, respectively.
The pandemic may have only hastened the consumer's shift to off-price at the expense of department stores. According to a recent GlobalData report, the state of employment in the U.S. has intensified bargain hunting behavior, which could benefit off-price players. BMO Capital Markets analysts in a Tuesday client note said they "continue to see off-pricers as long-term share takers in a post COVID-19 world, amid department store dislocation."
While Ross scaled back its brick-and-mortar expansion somewhat this year, the retailer has made it clear the tactic is key to its performance, "but the timing is a positive signal as well," according to BMO Managing Director Simeon Siegel.