While 2020 was defined by a huge wave of store closings, 2021 is shaping up to be a different story as consumers return to physical shopping. And Ross Stores is capitalizing on available real estate as its off-price competitors also ramp up expansion.
In June and July, the company opened 22 Ross Dress for Less and eight dd’s Discounts stores across 11 different states in a move to bolster its brick-and-mortar presence.
According to Gregg McGillis, group EVP of Property Development, the company plans to add 60 new locations — 40 Ross and 20 dd’s Discounts — this year.
This summer, Ross expanded in 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.
In Ross Stores Inc.’s first-quarter earnings call, CEO Barbara Rentler noted that the Midwest was the strongest region.
Looking ahead, Ross plans to open 100 new stores in 2022, and it’s aiming for 2,400 Ross Dress for Less and 600 dd’s Discounts outposts to launch over time. Rentler said these numbers do not reflect its plans to close or relocate about 10 stores.
There are currently 1,896 locations in 40 states, Washington D.C., and Guam.
Ross sales for the three-month period ending May 1 increased $2.7 billion, or 145.1%, compared to last year. This was primarily due to all store locations being open, as well as stimulus checks, vaccine rollouts, easing of COVID-19 restrictions and pent-up consumer demand. Total sales for the quarter were $4.5 billion with comparable store sales up a 13% versus 2019.
“Longer-term, we remain confident about our opportunity to gain market share as we expect to benefit significantly from the favorable competitive climate, given the large number of retail store closures and bankruptcies in recent years. This, along with the consumers heightened focus on value and convenience, bodes well for our ability to achieve solid results into the future,” Rentler said on the call.
The Ross openings comes as competitors like TJX — which debuted 70 new stores in the first quarter — also double down on physical locations. Elsewhere in the space, Nordstrom Rack is also a big focus for Nordstrom Inc. as it plots its post-pandemic strategy.