- Target and TJ Maxx shoppers love these stores because of the treasure-hunt shopping experience that they provide.
- Both are known for their addictive shopping experience. They’re frequently featured in memes about going into a store to make one purchase but ending up buying far more.
- We visited two stores in Downtown Manhattan and found that Target offered a better atmosphere for shopping.
TJ Maxx is an off-price retailer with around 1,200 US stores that sell clothing, homeware, and gourmet food at discounted prices.
Target, on the other hand, is a big-box retailer with around 1,800 stores in the US, selling everything from groceries to electronics and clothing, with some locations also offering cafés and CVS pharmacies in-store. It’s more often compared to Walmart or Costco.
Despite this, these two stores have one very similar defining characteristic: they’re both known for their so-called treasure-hunt shopping experience, and there is a big overlap in shoppers because of this. They both have become the subject of memes about customers coming in to a store for one item but leaving with much more.
We decided to put these two stores head to head to see which offered a better experience for shoppers. The locations that we compared were near each other in Downtown Manhattan, New York City.
Here’s what we found:
First, we visited a Target store in Tribeca. This is one of the retailer’s new, smaller-format stores. Target has been focusing on rolling out more of these smaller stores to reach a new set of shoppers in urban areas.
The focus at the front of the store was instantly on drawing in female customers, who make up the majority of Target’s customer base.
Some of these women’s summer dresses were offered with deals like buy one, get one 50% off.
Source: Business Insider
Next, we came across its Chobani café.
As this is one of only three Chobani cafés in existence, it could be a strategic way to drive new customers to this location.
As we headed further into the store, we spotted its Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection. The pieces in this collection were designed with Chip and Joanna Gaines from the TV show “Fixer Upper.”
This new collection launched in 2017.
Unique partnerships are one of Target’s biggest differentiators. Several of these collections were located in prominent places around the store.
Target now stocks Casper products in more than 1,000 of its stores across the US.
When Target launches these collections, it often stocks a limited amount of products to build hype, as it did with its collaboration with Hunter in April.
Private label is another important part of Target’s business.
These products are a way to differentiate Target and boost profit margins while still being able to offer customers affordable prices. Plus, they are a big asset in driving traffic to stores.
Target offers customers a treasure-hunt shopping experience.
“Stock is rotated in and out,” David Gordon, research director at PlanetRetail RNG, told Business Insider. It builds a fear of missing out, he said.
This was especially evident in its seasonal section.
“Target is a seasonal leader,” Ioli Macridi, a research analyst at PlanetRetail RNG, told Business Insider. Some customers go to the store just to shop this selection.
Seasonal items, like pool toys and beach balls, were located at the back of the store to encourage customers to browse the entire space.
Private label and basic items were cheap across men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing.
Among the big-box stores, Target is known for having a weaker grocery section — it’s about 15% the size of Walmart’s.
We found that the grocery selection at this small location was still impressive, and there was more than enough to do a weekly shopping trip here.
As part of its strategy to improve its grocery selection, Target has said it will grow its private-label offerings.
Source: Business Insider
These products were prominent in this store.
At the back of the grocery section, there was an area with clearance products. This felt similar to an off-price store.
CVS bought Target’s pharmacy business for $US1.9 billion in 2015. This means that all of its in-store pharmacies are CVS-branded.
Next, we headed to TJ Maxx.
From the outside, this store looked tired by comparison.
TJ Maxx is king of the treasure-hunt experience.
Everything is laid out haphazardly.
This is a typical scene.
TJ Maxx may be chaotic, but it offers big discounts at 20% to 60% less than full-price stores.
As it is an international company, TJ Maxx stocks a diverse mix of brands, sourcing products from over 20,000 vendors in 100 countries.
In some cases, it does feel more like a normal store, and you’ll find more than one of each item.
But mostly, it’s a mixed bag.
We spotted dozens of designer brands around the store, which cost significantly less than they would at a full-price store.
While some of the products were from last season, some well-known brands make items specifically for off-price stores like TJ Maxx.
The men’s section was a lot more civilized and easier to shop.
The store was spread out over two floors. The lower floor was even more chaotic, but shoppers didn’t seem to mind. There is less of a focus on the actual shopping experience — it’s all about the bargain.
“We think consumers have become more price-oriented and willing to trade customer service and an expensive store design for 20%-60% discounts on the same brand-name merchandise,” Morningstar analyst Bridget Weishaar wrote in a research note in April.
The homeware section felt very similar to Target, but the quality of some of the products seemed to be better. In this case, you’re getting a good deal on designer products. At Target, while the products are certainly as stylish as some designer brands, the quality is not always on the same level.
The biggest drawback at TJ Maxx is the lack of groceries. The selection here was limited to expensive-looking jars of pickles and olives.
Our verdict: These two stores both offer the “treasure hunt” experience, but in very different ways.
To love TJ Maxx you have to be prepared to rummage, but it’s not the store to go to if you need something really specific. You’ll need an open mind and a good chunk of time.
Target, however, was much easier to shop. It had the benefit of being well-stocked with all of the essentials and well-known brands, along with the excitement of finding a deal on a seasonal product or partnership.
Target was the clear winner here.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.