If Digital and Experience Are So Important, Why Are Most People Buying Their Clothes and Shoes in Off-Price Stores?

Nothing beats a deal.

A new survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers found that 91 percent of adults shop in off-price stores — like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross — and nearly 3 in 4 prefer these types of stores to other retailers.

“Consumers are looking for good deals and changing inventory,” explained ICSC spokesperson Stephanie Cegielski. “Millennials are particularly price-conscious and are frequenting off-price retailers more than other generations; in fact, 94 percent of millennials visit an off-price retailer at least once a month.”

Certainly, the reasons consumers are attracted to discount sellers are hardly surprising. But the success of these outposts — which typically have little to no e-commerce offerings — at a time when consumers are moving online in droves, speaks volumes of their sticking power.

“Footwear and apparel can be expensive, especially for families with children who grow out of clothes quickly,” said Cegielski. “The off-price retailers offer an opportunity to get quality merchandise at affordable prices.”

At the same time, as traditional brick-and-mortar stores — Macy’s, JCPenney and Nordstrom are a few examples — test new concepts to stay relevant amid heightened online competition, perhaps the most touted “saving grace” has been “in-store experience.”

Aside from the thrill of the find, with their typically warehouse-style layout, discount stores hardly offer the bells and whistles that many experts suggest are necessary to lure in millennials, who would rather dine out and travel than visit a brick-and-mortar shop.

So what gives?

According to ICSC, for many of today’s shoppers, price and value remain the leading variables for many consumers.

“Cost-conscious consumers are the biggest opportunity for the companies, and this is not likely to change anytime soon,” explained Cegielski. “Even in a strong economy, consumers want a bargain, and these retailers allow their dollar to go further than other retailers.”

Another study this year, by retail consulting firm HRC Retail Advisory, also found that despite retail’s increasing focus on experience and service, a whopping 95 percent of consumers prefer to be left alone while shopping unless they require the help of a sales associate.

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