Americans are abandoning department stores for one of the ugliest stores in retail

Ross Stores is taking over retail.

The discount chain — which competes with stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls — has opened more than 500 new stores since 2010.

It now has nearly 1,600 US locations and has reported soaring same-store sales as much of the brick-and-mortar retail industry is struggling. The chain has the potential to expand even more, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.

What is Ross’ secret? Being one of the ugliest stores in retail.

Much like warehouse chain Costco, Ross eschews the decor and frills of traditional retailers. The bare-bones philosophy allows them to pass savings of up to 60% on to customers.

Ross stores mapRoss Stores’ investor presentationRoss Stores’ US locations.

But racks of clothes, shoes, and purses can get messier than Costco’s boxes of bulk goods.

Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson visited Ross Stores’ location in Richmond, Virginia, and was shocked at the disarray she found.

“It looked like a tornado had ripped through the shoe department,” Peterson writes. “Everywhere we looked, it was a disaster.”

Yelp reviewers also commented on how messy and disorganized the store was.

In some stores, the fitting rooms are “dirty,” the service is “horrible,” and merchandise is mislabeled, ink-stained, broken, or damaged, according to an analysis of dozens of customer reviews on Yelp.

But customers will seemingly prioritise deals over organised shelves.

“I LOVE SHOPPING AT ROSS!” one customer wrote on Yelp, adding that she feels like she’s “robbing the bank” when she finds deals there.

Hayley Peterson contributed reporting to this story.

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