With 30 new stores in June and July, Ross sticks to plan for 3K locations

Retail Dive

With 30 new stores in June and July, Ross sticks to plan for 3K locations | Retail Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Continuing the expansion of its brick-and-mortar footprint despite surges in online apparel spending, Ross Stores on Monday said that it opened 30 new stores in 11 states in June and July.

  • The 22 new Ross Dress for Less and eight new DD's Discounts stores are part of the off-price retailer's plans for 60 new stores (40 of them Ross locations) during fiscal 2021, according to a company press release.

  • The company, under both banners, runs a total of 1,896 stores in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, and aims for at least 2,400 Ross and 600 DD's stores "over time," per its release.

Dive Insight:

The pandemic may have accelerated a permanent shift of some degree toward e-commerce, including online apparel sales. But, while that may have department stores like Macy's, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus all scrambling to bolster their digital operations and close stores, off-pricer Ross is sticking with its pre-pandemic brick-and-mortar goals.

That means more stores for Ross, not fewer. And it still means zero e-commerce. In fact, Ross had the audacity to open nearly 40 new stores last year in the midst of a raging pandemic. To be sure, that was less than half of the nearly 100 the company opened in 2019. Still, the company's long-term goal of running 3,000 stores was forged before the pandemic hit, and property development chief Gregg McGillis said in a statement that it remains confident of hitting that mark.

"These recent openings reflect our ongoing commitment to expanding our two chains," McGillis said. "This summer, we expanded our presence in our largest markets of California, Florida, and Texas, and also added locations in newer states, including Illinois for dd's as well as Ohio and West Virginia for Ross."

Ross and its off-price rivals TJX Cos. and Burlington have long focused on physical retail in order to offer a "treasure hunt" atmosphere and eschewed e-commerce to protect margins, making last year especially tough without an online channel. Recovery in the first quarter was swift as stores reopened, however.

While Monday's announcement was par for the course at Ross, store openings this year have picked up their pace industry-wide. Coresight Research recently tallied a 41.8% increase in store opening announcements year over year, just below the 4,626 closures announced to that point this year. In recent years, closures have far surpassed new stores.

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